With Aetna's exit, AHIP takes another hit

Aetna will leave America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), becoming the second major insurer to part ways with the industry's largest trade association.

"Aetna has decided not to renew our AHIP membership for 2016. We will continue to partner with groups that are working, as we are, toward expanding access to high-quality, affordable healthcare," the company said in a statement emailed to FierceHealthPayer.

This past June, UnitedHealth Group left AHIP, saying it felt the group's diverse member population limited its advocacy focus and thus it no longer felt AHIP best represented the interests of the country's largest health insurer.

In response to Aetna's decision, AHIP emphasized its history of representing the industry's interests, including submitting amici curiae briefs in the King v. Burwell Supreme Court case, testifying before Congress about the value of health insurer mergers, and aggressively challenging rising prescription drug costs.

Aetna is currently seeking regulatory approval for its merger with another major insurer, Humana.

"AHIP's successful advocacy record speaks for itself. Our members depend on AHIP to advance their key priorities, to strengthen the public-private programs that provide coverage for millions of Americans, and to deliver solutions that improve access to high quality, affordable care for consumers," Marilyn Tavenner, the group's president and CEO, said in a statement emailed to FierceHealthPayer.

Tavenner, formerly the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, took the helm at AHIP in July after its previous CEO, Karen Ignagni, left the trade group in May to serve as CEO of New York-based insurer EmblemHealth.

In a more recent leadership shakeup, two senior officials decided to part ways with AHIP in December--Mary Beth Donahue, who has been executive vice president for more than a decade, and Dan Durham, who had been serving as interim CEO.

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