Fisher said representatives of the American Medical Association, American College of Physicians, American Academy of Pediatricians, and the American College of Cardiology participated. Most of the major physician groups, including the AMA, supported the basic principles of the ACA during the congressional battle over its passage. But conservative factions of these groups still chafe over the law.
Jennings teed up the issue of exchange health plans offering narrower networks of physicians and hospitals. Insurers say plans with tighter provider networks are needed to keep premiums affordable and still meet the benefit and other requirements of the healthcare reform law. The concept is to funnel a larger volume of patients to fewer, quality-selected providers, sometimes in exchange for lower reimbursement rates.
“I told the group that this is nothing new for our members,” Fisher said. “We've been dealing with narrow networks for many years now. It's a good tool to get at the cost of care, but it doesn't really get at access or quality of care.”
Across the country, narrow networks already have triggered some intense political battles. Hospitals and physicians have complained that plans have excluded them, and some hospitals have asked state officials to require the plans to include them. Seattle Children's Hospital recently filed suit against the Washington state insurance commissioner to force exchange plans to include it in their networks.
There was a similar outcry in the 1990s with the growth of HMOs, and many states passed “any willing provider” laws requiring insurers to include all providers who accepted the terms of the plans.
Fisher said he emphasized the expense associated with providers having to transfer patient records to their patients' new providers.
But he said he does not anticipate any significant changes, either regulatory or legislative, as a result of Tuesday's meeting. Administration officials at the meeting said they want to keep the lines of communication open. He said he won't be surprised if there's another meeting this year or early next year. And he seemed pleased with the response from the few administration officials at the meeting.
“They were very, very attentive—listening and engaging in conversation,” Fisher said.
Follow Jessica Zigmond on Twitter: @MHjzigmond