Chasm Between Insurers And Reform Supporters Grows
Although "[h]ealth insurers insist they're still committed to getting a health care overhaul bill passed this year," many people in Washington are "wondering if - or when - the industry will change its mind and try to kill it," The Associated Press reports.
"The industry's chief lobbyist, Karen Ignagni, said Thursday that insurers 'can continue to make a major contribution to the overhaul effort.' But her comments came in the midst of mounting tensions between her industry and majority Democrats. ..."
"Some in Washington ... argue that Democrats' nonstop attacks make it obvious the industry has already been carved out of the legislative process - unlike the pharmaceutical industry, hospitals and doctors, with whom lawmakers are working. Should the insurance industry opt for a broader attack, it would not take long to launch a TV ad campaign" (Fram, 10/22).
One company is already making its case to Congress. "WellPoint Inc., the nation's largest health insurer by members, is striking out against proposed health-overhaul legislation with new data it presented to members of Congress Thursday," The Wall Street Journal reports. "The insurer's conclusions, building on a study the insurance lobby put out last week, purport to show state by state how proposed changes to the nation's health-care system would drive up premiums for some individuals and small businesses" (Johnson, 10/22).
Meanwhile, "hundreds of people" protested the insurance industry outside the Washington, D.C., hotel where America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry's trade group, was holding a conference, USA Today reports. "The event was organized by Health Care for America Now, a group that supports a government-run 'public' health insurance option as part of health care reform." Several families "shared stories of denied care" and "signed a letter asking AHIP's president and CEO, Karen Ignagni, to meet them at the hotel to 'hear firsthand the ways in which the entities you represent have disrupted our lives.' The letter was used as a print ad in several Capitol Hill newspapers. They did not receive a response, according to Health Care for America Now" (Gaudiano, 10/22).
NPR: "No one in the insurance industry group was interested in commenting on the protest, including their spokesperson" (Seabrook, 10/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.