July 30th, 2009
03:47 PM ET
5 years ago

Top Dems blame insurance industry as health care roadblock

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the insurance industry 'the villians' in the Democrat's push to reform health care.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the insurance industry 'the villians' in the Democrat's push to reform health care.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - As Congress prepares to head into a monthlong August recess, Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill ripped into the insurance industry, framing the health care debate as a battle against insurers.

"They are the villains in this," Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters. She labeled industry practices as "immoral."

Pelosi predicted that as members go to their districts next month and explain the Democrats' health care plan, it will pick up support. But she pointed directly at insurers as standing in the way of health care reform, highlighting their opposition to having a government-run plan compete with private insurers.

"They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening, and the public has to know that," she said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also called out insurers at a news conference Thursday.

"I don't think we should be crying great big tears for the insurance industry," he said. "There is no business in America that makes more money than the insurance industry. Over the past 10 years their profits have been increased by over 450 percent.

"So, I'm not really very much in the mood to worry about the insurance industry. The insurance industry, my friends, is the only industry other than baseball that's exempt from the anti-trust act. That's the reason the have 450 percent profit over the past 10 years."

Calling health care reform "the fight of our lives," Pelosi told reporters outside her Capitol Hill office that insurance companies have "had a good thing going for a long time at the expense of the American people and the health of the country. So our members have to go out there ready to take on a big special interest that has not made our country healthier and has made our costs spiral upward, and for whom that is coming to an end."

Asked about insurers' role in health care reform, House Republican Leader John Boehner conceded they "certainly aren't lily white in this fight." But he added, "most Americans like the health insurance they have. ... They don't think it cost too much."

A House Democratic aide said the stepped-up rhetoric regarding insurers is deliberate.

Democratic leaders are concerned that people who have health care insurance aren't getting the message about the need for reform, the aide said. Democrats want to specifically focus on the theme that without reform insurance costs could go up.

Another Democratic aide pointed out that the top item on a list of talking points distributed to House Democrats for the recess reads: "health-insurance reform to hold insurance companies accountable."

–CNN Congressional Producer Ted Barrett contributed to this story


Filed under: Harry Reid • Health care • Nancy Pelosi
soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Gina D., WVA

    As someone who works in the "healthcare" industry, far too many of you are far to ignorant to the realities. With all the trumped up pre-existing conditions just to drop people who paid on time for years...........it was the last straw for me.

    To see people get bonuses for dropping the most people.........it was the last straw for me.

    To see the disgustingly lavish parties put on for members of Congress in an effort to maintin status quo..............it was the last straw for me.

    Not having affordable healthcare.............IS THE LAST STRAW FOR ME.

    Let your elected officials know that if they don't support a REAL healtcare reform bill, not this superficial crap Blue Dogs are pushing, they will NOT get your vote come 2010 and 2012!!! Let them know!

    I've made my calls, when will the rest of us stand up and say "NO MORE!

    July 30, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. Loretta

    Pelosi is a nut case and needs to go home..........and she should take Obama with her......they make a good pair...........

    July 30, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. Rob Johnson

    What could possibly be worse than having the government in charge of your health care?

    I'll tell you what–Having a bunch of profit-driven insurance companies in charge of your healthcare. Anybody who thinks these people are interested in the health of the average American is blind or stupid.

    Pelosi may be an idiot, but that doesn't mean she isn't right on this.

    July 30, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. BPQ

    Stop wasting the taxpayers time and patience, it's not just one entity–the insurance indusrty. It's the abuse of the personal injury industry. The waste of resourses, time and money of the goverment agencies already involved in the system. tell Nancy and the like to look at themselves first!

    July 30, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. Kelby In Houston, TX

    Well duh! It's because of the Health insurance that the single payer option was taken off of the table. Please believe that there are so many of our current congressional representatives so deep in the pocket of Big Pharma and Insurance lobbyist that we may never get universal healthcare
    Universal healthcare will destroy the healthcare industry.
    Health Insurance companies and large pharmaceutical don't want universal healthcare. They don't want any reform at all. They don't mind people are dying. they don't care if they bankrupt you for a cure.

    July 30, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. PETER DIGRE

    The problem rests squarely with President Obama and his failure to produce his own plan and focus his full attention on fighting for it. He needs to step up, lead and kick some butt. The worthless Congressional Democrats (and some Republican fellow travelers) would get in line quickly if the President would show some strong, and even revengeful, leadership. My fear is that this is just not in his nature...he seems to be seeking a congenial concensus...let the people (ie. Congress) decide...three cheers for participatory Congressional democracy...where is LBJ when we need him?

    July 30, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. Obama Victim

    aren't companies supposed to make money?? that way they can hire and pay employees.....and provide a return to their investers?? those pesky economics............don't you just hate when it makes you look foolish

    July 30, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. Bill

    ALL, look at real clear politics, this is no conservative site, but look at the clip of Barney Frank admitting the goal of any public option is to eventually get full single payer govt run care. It is shocking in its boldness but noe shows the true intention. See it, pass it along.

    Shocking

    July 30, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. blue dogs out in 2010!!!

    No one cares, until it's their ass that's dropped or they're the one facing a 70% increase in insurance premiums. There is no reason my health insurance premiums should be more than my fricking $1500 mortgage!!!

    It's disgusting beyond belief. I will say that the GOP is brilliant at getting their base to believe and spread outright lies and half truths through fear and distraction.......BRILLIANT.

    July 30, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. BuckyLeeWee

    If you can afford health care now I hope you can keep up with the rising costs. If your insurance refuses to pay a portion or you owe 20 -30% after you pay your deductable, you're medical costs could send you reeling into bankruptcy. Think about it. The GOP have bowed down to the Insurance lobbyists for years-where do you think they get their largest campaign contrinbutions? THINK. WE NEED REFORM NOW.

    July 30, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  11. BJ

    I thought the Dems had a majority in both the House and Senate? Is it possible that some of their members are taking money from the insurance industry to block this?

    Nah...Dems have morals, right...?

    July 30, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  12. mike

    The Spendocrats have a majority in both House and Senate and they STILL blame someone else.

    July 30, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  13. joe m

    what pelosi and her supporters don't get is that while most americans want healthcare reform, many do not mean that to be universal healthcare. most americans want the practices of the insurance companies that deny coverage through less than reputable methods stopped. we already have a system of universal healthcar; it is called medicade and medicare. additonally, many americans struggle with the question of wether it is their responsibility to provide healthcare benefits to those who are here illegally. if pelosi and her supproters work harder towards addressing current practices and put into place safeguards to protect most americans, then this effort would enjoy wider support. most americans believe that they should have the right to have the opportunity for healthcare that protects them, not the right to simply have healthcare.

    July 30, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  14. chris

    can we have your insurance as an option nancy? boehner is right. the majority of americans have no problem with their insurance. but the arguement i keep returning to is. has there really ever been anything (medicare, medicaid, social security) that government hasn't totally screwed up? do we really want this people? if so...fine. say goodbye to a lot of jobs. say goodbye to good prompt care. say hello to trillions of debt.

    July 30, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. Terry, Florida

    We need a public option, for the competition with private insurers, but we don't need the plans being put forth solely by the Democrats.

    Public non-acceptance of those disastrous plans are the roadblock, not insurance companies – they don't have a vote.

    But it seems nobody is listening to the public.

    There is an acceptable compromise between the cost-containment of the Republican plan and the spend, spend, spend plan of the Democrats, but party lines rule, not the public.

    Politics as usual.

    July 30, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. Peoples Voice

    These companies are pumping millions of dollars into the pockets of every Congressman they can corrupt.

    The money has no party lines and we need to find a way to stop these companies from buying our representatives.

    July 30, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  17. jeff

    For everyone that says we have to have free market. Our premiums keep going up, our benefits keep going down. The insurance companies keep making millions. Who do you think pays for their profits, salaries, bonuses, marketing. WE AER PAYING FOR THEIR 450% PROFIT. I am all for a free market, but healthcare need to be a right for everyone. You can not do a good job with healthcare with all you care about is your bottom line. They are not going to give the best healthcare, they are going to give the cheapest. Do you really think any insurance company cares about your health?

    July 30, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  18. GGG

    Nancy Pelosi and Obama are nothing but a big joke... They are both Liars!!! They are running out of people to blame. Obama has not fixed anything he has put the American people so far in debt . He and Nancy are a disgrace!!!

    July 30, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  19. GOP = NOOOOOOOO way

    I'll GLADLY take GOVERNMENT single payer over this so-called "healthcare" we have now. What we have is nothing more than "premiumcare". Can't wait for the GOP attack ads in August with all of the cool fear and division buzz words........rationing, socialism, blah, blah, blah.

    July 30, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  20. Wake Up

    Maybe the problem is that this health care bill is garbage and will ruin the country? Pelosi is a scumbag crook. And you want her telling you what procedures are allowed?
    People, King Barack is taking our freedoms...WAKE UP!

    July 30, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  21. Lauren

    The CIA lied to me, the insurance companies are crooks, George Bush ruined the country, the blue dogs are not on our side, the GOP is not playing bipartism politics.

    Who is this lady going to blame next, the people who voted for the wicked witch of the west????????

    Why does she not blame the person who is President. Instead of telling us how this is going to work exactly, he is out on the campaign trail doing town hall meetings where all he spreads is rhetoric. Oh wait, that is what a community organizer does. I guess Pelosi and Obama have forgot he is president now.

    STOP blaming everyone but yourself Nancy. Your number three perso in this country, and you can not get the bill passed. Soooo, either your not as good as you think you are, or everyene else sees right through your bull.

    July 30, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  22. Marty, Grand Rapids MI

    Single payer is the only way to truly reduce health care costs. For profit insurance companies (who pay 78 cents on the dollar vs 90 cents for non-profit and 97 cents for medicare) are sucking the life out of America. Big shocker they want to keep the status quo that is un-sustainable.

    July 30, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  23. dave g, minneapolis

    Immoral is the congress intruding in our lives to such an extent with a bill that will wind up costing us MUCH more than they think.

    You want government run healthcare? Go talk to a Veteran and the VA. Remember the poor conditions reported at Army Reid Medical Center? Well, that's what we're all in for and we'll be left wondering, why are we paying so much for such poor healthcare?

    July 30, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  24. Luke

    The sky is the limit with healthcare costs. The American public, in no way, keep up with the rising cost. We need reform NOW.

    July 30, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "The insurance industry, my friends, is the only industry other than baseball that's exempt from the anti-trust act. "

    You do realize that this one simple fact knocks all the "free market" blabber right on its tuckus, don't you? The anti-trust laws (Clayton, etc.) are designed to ensure that companies are not allowed to engage in anti-competetive behavior, such as price fixing or forming an oligopoly. Getting the picture? Yeah... 2 + 2 = .....

    July 30, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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