While running for governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius visited Community Catalyst in early June 2002. Just a few months earlier, Sebelius had rejected the Anthem Insurance proposal to take over the state’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan. Community Catalyst staff had worked closely with Kansas advocates for several months to ensure that the interests of health care consumers throughout the state, especially the medically underserved, would be recognized in the proceeding.
In the process, consumer advocates had come to respect Sebelius’ regulatory style. She was absolutely thorough, devoting substantial resources and time to carefully considering the deal’s probable impact on Kansans. With her decision not to approve the Anthem buyout, the commissioner confirmed what advocates had suspected: the regulator viewed the public interest as a critical component of her responsibilities.
Sebelius lauded Community Catalyst for the added perspective it brought to the oversight process. She also said the deliberations convinced her that Kansas needs to create a consumer health advocacy group.
“I’ve tried to represent the consumer perspective myself, but the dynamic is odd,” she said. “There really needs to be a consumer group. There needs to be that balance in the dialogue. . . . Otherwise, you can end up having hearings with 25 insurance company representatives, and then someone from the medical society. And you get a very skewed dialogue.”
To read more about Sebelius’ visit to Community Catalyst, see our Summer 2002 issue of States of Health.