K Streeters Must Choose Sides As Health Debate Nears Showdown
Health industry lobbying groups are positioning themselves for the final battles over health reform, and that will mean formally choosing sides for, or against on Democrats' health-care overhaul, The Hill reports. "The result could be a flurry of associations embracing Democratic efforts to reform the nation's healthcare system, which would likely push the legislation to [President Barack] Obama's desk. Or it could mirror the battle of the 1990s, when an array of healthcare groups crushed President Bill Clinton's plan, subsequently leading to the GOP takeover of Congress in 1994."
One turning point may be a report commissioned by America's Health Insurance Plans that circulated Monday. The report concluded premiums would soar under a leading reform proposal. An unidentified "veteran lobbyist" told The Hill, "This creates another hurdle on the road to reform - and not an insignificant one. The key is whether [the AHIP report] is a one-time event or a domino."
"All segments of the healthcare industry have concerns about the legislation [proposed in the Senate Finance Committee] and the other Democratic bills. For the most part, however, they have done their criticizing quietly as they try to get the bills changed, rather than embarking on a public campaign to kill them." If those groups follow AHIP's lead and take their concerns public especially over a weakened individual mandate they say doesn't do enough to expand their market momentum could shift against the plans. One physician lobbyist, however, said he didn't anticipate "a sudden piling on effect. If this effort fails, and we contributed to that failure, we're going to be stuck with the status quo" (Young, 10/12).