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Merger to form giant health insurance lobby completed

The Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA) and the American Association of Health Plans (AAHP), two powerful health insurance associations, finally completed their long awaited merger, forming a new Goliath-sized lobby for the health insurance industry.

Announced in early December, 2003, the merger creates an organization representing nearly 1,300 member companies aimed at the promotion of access to high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans. Following the merger, the organization renamed itself America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).

Karen Ignagni, president of the former AAHP, and now president of the new AHIP, said as the merger was completed, "Our members, who cover 200 million Americans, now have a more effective, unified voice."

Ignati said the new organization greatly bolstered its state advocacy operations, including creating a new state policy shop, hiring regional directors and increasing its state lobbying force. In addition, the organization has created a new, dedicated team to work with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

AHIP has also deepened its federal policy, regulatory and legislative teams.

"As the market is moving to offer more choices of products and delivery systems and opportunities are emerging to create public-private partnerships, we have enhanced and reorganized our federal reseources to more effectively support our members," Ignagni said.

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