After months and months and months of backbreaking work to produce a watered-down health reform bill that the insurance industry would not oppose, the Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote Tuesday on the Baucus bill.
And just in time for that vote, wouldn't you know it, the insurance industry is promoting a report that says the Baucus bill will increase insurance premiums for American famlies.
And that report is the subject of stories in this morning's New York Times and Washington Post.
NYT: Insurance Industry Assails Health Care Legislation
In a blistering new attack, the health insurance industry said Sunday that health care legislation drafted by Senate Democrats would drive up premiums, rather than making coverage more affordable, as the White House contends.WaPo (front page!): New Bill Would Raise Rates, Says Insurance Group
A lobby for the industry, America’s Health Insurance Plans, focused its criticism on a bill likely to be approved Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee.
“The overall impact will be to increase the cost of private insurance coverage for individuals, families and businesses above what these costs would be in the absence of reform,” said Karen M. Ignagni, president of the trade association.
After months of collaboration on President Obama's attempt to overhaul the nation's health-care system, the insurance industry plans to strike out against the effort on Monday with a report warning that the typical family premium in 2019 could cost $4,000 more than projected.So, after a summer of pursuing consensus with Republicans and the insurance industry, the Democrats find themselves facing steadfast opposition from... Republicans and the insurance industry. How can this be? Who could have predicted that when it came time to pick sides, these constituencies would pick its own sides? I am shocked, SHOCKED, that the for-profit insurance industry would choose in the end to protect its profits rather than support reducing them for the public good.
The critique, coming one day before a critical Senate committee vote on the legislation, sparked a sharp response from the Obama administration. It also signaled an end to the fragile detente between two central players in this year's health-care reform drama.
Industry officials said they intend to circulate the report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers on Capitol Hill and promote it in new advertisements. That could complicate Democratic hopes for action on the legislation this week.
The GOP proved conclusively some time ago that they were not interested in negotiating in good faith over health reform. Now that the insurance industry has shown its hand, it is time for the Democrats to get up from the table.
Pass the kind of bill that will make real, positive changes for the American people. Scrap all the giveaways to the health industry. Shred all the compromises designed to get Republican votes that are not and never were going to materialize. Send a bill to the president's desk that includes a strong public option. For that matter, the Dems might as well make it Medicare for Everybody. Why not? What's the worst that could happen, that it would be opposed by Republicans and the insurance industry?
Schedule the most progressive elements of the bill to take effect on January 1, 2010, so that by the time the mid-term elections roll around, people will actually have started to see some benefit from the changes.
And when AHIP and the GOP start screaming, tell them to go to hell.