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. dave g, minneapolis

    We do need reform now, we don't need government management of healthcare or mandated healthcare.

    July 30, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Here's another example for the simple-minded folks out there on how insurance companies get over on you. Let's say you have a plan that requires you to get pre-authorization, the only reason the insurance company wants yuor services to be preaithorized is so that if you're treated on a day that is not covered under your pre-authorization, that means the insurance company doesn't have to pay the provider.

    July 30, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  3. RobK

    If you don't like insurance companies, don't do business with them. Pay your doctor directly.

    July 30, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. Runningdarkwolf

    Health Insurance is a hustle!!

    July 30, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. The Dude

    My premuims will go up 15% in September, and I consider myself lucky in comparison to many Americans. You clowns can attack Pelosi all that you want, but the reality is that the insurance companies have the best government representation that money can buy. Paying off the Republicans was easy to do, given the nature of Republicans. They had to dump a bunch of money into the coffers of a few conservative Democrats to turn the tide in their favor. They (the insurance companies) will rip off the American people until the healthcare system collapses, then they will have their hand out for a government bailout. If you haven't figured that out based on Wall Street and the banks, then you are incapable of learning.

    July 30, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Hillary

    If the insurance industry "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."

    Instead of overhauling the entire industry and practically causing panic – why don't they just add the insurance industry to the anti-trust act and make healthcare more affordable. Why is everyone making such a big stink over all this? Let's use our heads for once and make concise decisions instead of the democrats only being in it for money and personal gain.

    July 30, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. RobK

    There is plenty of competition in the insurance business. If someone could do it cheaper, they would be offering insurance now. Unfortunately, too many people do not want to pay for their health care. They want someone else to pay for it.

    July 30, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  8. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    maybe it is time for americans to take health care out of the insurance industry .and start a program that doesn't rape our pocket book. make it like social security. and don't let government borrow money from it and make all the elected officials join in the program . everyone gets treated equal

    wow what a deal that would be . insurance giants not controlling our lives . and the program would become profitable ...the only catch is the money generated would stay in the program .and not be used for lobying money for elected officials or big business ONLY FOR HEALTH CARE...and for future research in medicine.

    gary davis

    proud american and proud of our president

    July 30, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  9. Mississippi Mike

    I blame meddling politicians for the problems in the health care industry. If they would let HMO's actually run their businesses instead of telling them which states they can operate in, who they must cover and how to determine fees we wouldn't be in this mess.

    July 30, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. Four and The Door

    Democrats really have this Blaimstorming thing down well.
    It's easier than having to figure things out, especially when your philosophies don't work in the real world.

    July 30, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. Siara

    Our system's broken-ness has become so highly developed that now it defends itself from being repaired. Anyone out there who's still deluded enough to think that the American people are in charge of their government need only look at the health care situation.

    The people aren't in charge- big business is in charge.

    July 30, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  12. Stu

    Hey Mr. Moderator.....since when are you allowed to trample on free speech. Not posting anything hateful, just truthful!

    July 30, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  13. Mike TX

    Every time Nancy opens her mouth and proves her stupidity causes me to pray just a little harder that one day an earthquake will split California from the rest of the Unites States. Then the socially progressive but economically-challenged state will cease to be a drag on the rest of the country.

    July 30, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. JB

    FYI- Pelosi's new bill contains new language on paying for the healthcare system. Anyone(family) making over $76,000 will pay a 10% surcharge. Sounds like a tax on the middleclass to me.

    July 30, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  15. MJ

    You really believe Government Health Care is going to solve the problems? Please pay attention – read what you are so eager to get yourselves into. Just because they say "this is right" doesn't make it so. Get educated people. Sending Nancy back to "Oz" would be a great start.

    July 30, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  16. tb

    Obama is doing a GREAT job...better than any president in such a long time. I don't care about the polls, just want him to continue doing what he's doing. I hope everyone wakes up and lets his health plan pass..america really needs it. We need to stop the Reps against the Dems already and work together.

    July 30, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  17. Todd

    I would love to have the VA healthcare. I am a veteran of 10 years but I was not in combat or disabled in any way so I dont qualify. VA care would be a 100% improvment over what i have now which is NOTHING! I am home with the flu today but I can't go see the doctor because I have to pay for 100% of it and god forbid Ii find out that I have something serious and need to be hospitalized. My fragile finances would be finnished. Im pretty sure I would be OK but my 2 children would suffer. I am one of those millions of americans caught in the middle, I make too much for any type of government help but not enough to afford insurance. Please help me

    July 30, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  18. Carlos

    It is always somebody elses fault when the dum dims don't get their way.Nancy stay out of the botox chair.

    July 30, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  19. Rick

    Congress will be unable to enact any reform due to the influence of corporate lobbyists. Ours is not a government of the people but of special interest groups, like health insurers. I find it amusing that people think the Democrats would not be beholden to special interest groups. The only difference is that the Republicans never tried to hide it.

    July 30, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  20. RobK

    A public option would be fine if it had to play by the same rules as the private companies: no tax dollars to support the system and governed by all the different state rules that private companies have to abide by. Think US Post Office versus FedEx and UPS.

    July 30, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  21. Wake Up

    All you Obamabots don't even know what you support. They are trying to ram a bill down our throats that will ration care to people. A "board" picked by politicians will tell you what procedure you can get. Is that REALLY what you want? All this and trillion dollars more debt....and we will have to pay for illegal aliens care. You lefties should get a job and not think govt. is your guardian.

    July 30, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  22. HJA

    Here we go again. When corporations, through lobbyists can threaten or coerce our officials in government with cash or threats of giving cash to their opponents they have stepped over the line. When the wallet comes out the cell door should slam shut. Those who take money from lobbyists belong in jail. They operate like a gang. The individual doesn't get the cash, the party does. Gangs are prosecuted under RICO, an ongoing criminal activity. It's time to ban cash lobbyists. You can try to persuade someone to your view but when cash is involved it's a bribe, plain and simple. Anyone who claims it's free speech is an idiot or a criminal.

    July 30, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  23. Fan of Common Sense

    Notice how democrats always have to have "a villain?"–someone to demonize. It's usuall to draw attention away from the fact that they usually are the villain themselves.

    July 30, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  24. Obama/Biden

    Insurance companies do not want to lose the meal and honey that they are having now so they will try everything to scare people and try to stop health care reform. Insurace companies pick you up whenever they want to and drop from receiving coverage whenever you get a disease that requires a lot of money. This is unfair. If the insurance companies do not hesitate to take money from your pay check, they should not get hesitate to pay for your bill when you get sick. But, they are doing so. This is unfair. Medicare and Medicaid are government run health care and they never denied you coverage when you really need. The private insurance companies been doing so for so long and they realize having a broader system that function like medicare, medicaid will put them out of business so they will lobby to try to stop health care reform.

    July 30, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  25. John

    Why don't the Republicans come up with a plan? Oh that's right they have one that is so bad for Americans it's laughable. Anything to maintain the status quo though so they will forever be known as the party of do nothings.

    July 30, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
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