AHIP's Marilyn Tavenner hopes to win back Aetna, UnitedHealth

Two major insurers have left the trade association since this past summer
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The industry's largest trade association hopes to convince the two major health insurers that left its ranks to return amid a particularly high-stakes year for payers.

Aetna recently announced that it had decided to leave America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), even amid its ongoing lobbying effort to smooth the way for its acquisition of Humana. It follows in the footsteps of UnitedHealth, which announced it was leaving AHIP this past summer.

In an interview with Bloomberg, AHIP CEO Marilyn Tavenner made it clear that she isn't giving up on the two insurers.

"One of our primary goals is to make sure we meet them at their space and have them rejoin AHIP," Tavenner said. "From my perspective, the door is open and we want them back, and both of them know that."

That may be easier said than done, however, as the larger insurers among AHIP's membership have increasingly been dissatisfied with how much the group focuses on nonprofit and small insurers.

In fact, the industry's largest insurers, including Aetna and UnitedHealth, have been meeting secretly in a "group of five" because of their concerns about AHIP's direction, people familiar with the matter previously told Bloomberg. They believed they should have more input in AHIP's strategy because of their size, according to the article.

Some think Aetna and UnitedHealth's departure from AHIP may mean the health insurance industry is likely to be represented in the future by a handful of groups, rather than one unified organization.

Still, both Anthem and Cigna, which also are planning to merge, have said they value their AHIP membership, according to Bloomberg.  AHIP spent more than $9.2 million on lobbying last year, FierceHealthPayer previously reported, though both Aetna and Cigna have also invested considerably in their own lobbying efforts for their respective mergers.

To learn more:
- read the Bloomberg article

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