If you enjoy the attack against the insurance industry, you are going to be a very happy person. The wonks at the White House have decided the only way to turn around the negative reaction to Obamacare, is to make the insurance industry the ultimate villain. That’s why Nancy Pelosi sent home her “Can’t make a Judgment for themselves” congress with orders to blame the Insurance Industry for everything (except for the economy–for that they have to continue blaming Bush).
The fact unacknowledged by Pelosi, is that AHIP (the Insurance Industry’s trade association) made their own proposal in December that would eliminate pre-existing conditions, cherry-picking and denial of coverage when a person becomes unemployed. That would have been done without a public option and without the mess of a major bureaucracy that is being pushed today. But that plan would deny the Democratic party of a chance to control more of the economy.
The Insurance industry is not taking this lying down, today they started fighting back against this unfair demonization of their industry by the White House and Congress:
Health insurance industry pushes back on Democrats
By Jeffrey Youn
The health insurance industry is fighting back against intensified Democratic attacks and vowing to “correct the record” on its role in healthcare reform, its chief lobbyist said Tuesday.
The health insurance lobby, aware of its low public standing and the general antipathy of Democrats toward its industry, has put on a humble public face during the course of the healthcare reform debate. But strong anti-insurer rhetoric from Democrats struggling to win over a skeptical public could wake the sleeping giant.
Karen Ignagni, the president and CEO of the trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), said the industry would take its case directly to the American public via a television advertising campaign and by dispatching insurance company employees to public events staged by Democratic members of Congress during the August recess.
Ignagni said the industry is not launching a full-scale attack but instead will emphasize the reforms it supports and argue that its opposition to creating a government-run “public option” insurance plan does not signify its opposition to reform.
Democrats have been wary of the health insurance lobby, which killed President Bill Clinton’s attempt to overhaul the healthcare system in the 1990s.
In recent weeks President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats have shifted away from highlighting the supposed cooperation of healthcare industry groups and toward attacking the health insurance industry.
Ignagni said her industry is being demonized.
“A campaign has been launched to demonize health plans and the men and women who work hard every day in their communities to provide health insurance coverage to more than 200 million Americans,” she said on a conference call with reporters.
“Health insurance reform” has all but replaced “healthcare reform” in Obama’s lexicon as the White House touts its plans to enact strict new requirements on whom insurers must cover and how much they may charge.
“We have a system today that works well for the insurance industry, but it doesn’t always work well for you,” Obama said last week. “What we need, and what we will have when we pass these reforms, are health insurance consumer protections to make sure that those who have insurance are treated fairly and insurance companies are held accountable.”
A July New York Times/CBS poll found that 82 percent of respondents felt the healthcare system need to undergo “fundamental changes” or be “completely rebuilt.” The same poll found that 66 percent favored a government-run healthcare option, but it also showed 42 percent were “very concerned” their healthcare costs would rise if there were such an option.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called insurance companies the “villains” of the healthcare system and sent her caucus home for recess last week with clear instructions to sharply criticize the industry.
“They are the villains in this,” Pelosi said last week. “They have been part of the problem in a major way. They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening. And the public has to know that. They can disguise their arguments any way they want, but the fact is that they don’t want the competition.”
The insurance industry strongly opposes the public option, arguing that the government would use its authority to undercut private insurers by underpaying healthcare providers. The result, insurers contend, would be higher premiums for those with private insurance as providers demand higher fees from insurance companies to make up for low payments from the government.
The House’s healthcare legislation includes a public option, as does the measure that passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The Senate Finance Committee, which has yet to introduce a bill as its members seek an elusive bipartisan consensus, is not expected to include a public option in its measure and instead look to create not-for-profit healthcare cooperatives to compete with private plans.
But the industry notes it does support much of the insurance market reforms promoted by Obama and Democrats — reforms that would substantially change their business model in the individual and small-group insurance markets.
“Health plans were the first of the stakeholders to come to the table with a comprehensive proposal to reform our own sector,” Ignagni said.
Before Obama was even sworn into office, AHIP endorsed proposals that would require its members to enroll anyone, regardless of pre-existing medical conditions, and to place limits on charging higher premiums based on age, health status or gender, among other policies, according to Ignagni.
The industry’s support for these reforms is contingent on the government mandating that nearly all individuals obtain health coverage, a policy included in each of the Democratic healthcare bills pending in Congress.
During the congressional recess, AHIP will continue its ongoing ad campaign by highlighting the reforms it supports rather than focusing on the public option or other proposals it opposes. “The best way to address it is straight-up,” Ignagni said, “to talk about what we’re for.”