Health Insurer Chief Says ‘Villain’ Comments Hurt Process
On a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning, Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, said the "Washington politics as usual" of finger pointing at health insurers is hurting the process of trying to forge consensus on health reform.
While Ignagni didn't name House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by name - who last week called insurers "villains," she said anyone trying to find a villain among insurers was hurting both the process and "ordinary" Americans working in the industry.
"They don't deserve to be demonized or vilified as part of a campaign to distract attention away from the sinking support for a government-run program," she said. Ignagni also called claims about the extravagance of health care profits "erroneous."
Ignagni wouldn't speculate as to how much of the increasingly tough talk from Democrats or the White House on reforming insurers it would take to drive the insurers' support away from health care reform, and said that ending insurer denial of coverage based on pre-existing condition denials or health status would be "hard to do that" without individual mandate.
In the meantime, AHIP continues its march against including a government run plan in reform. "We're 80 percent there with the kind of consensus this time around in 2009 that never existed in 93-94," she said. "Unfortunately I think the full focus on the government-run question has obscured this consensus."
As Congress recesses, Ignagni said AHIP will spend time and advertising dollars to communicate its support for bipartisan reform. "We're going to continue to focus on the proposals that we've been advocating for more than three years," she said. "What we're going to do in August is make sure every American outside Washington understands what we have proposed, what we are for and the fact that we are working hard to help forge the consensus that must be forged to pass health care reform."