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. blame game

    All the liberals keep talking about again and again is about how the Republicans are the "Party of No".What are the Democrats other than the "Party of Blame"?

    From 2002-2008 Democrats and Liberals began a trend of "Blame Bush. Blame Cheney. Blame the Republican Congress". Now they have both the White House and Congress, and they just keep on with the same old tired act. Now it's "Blame the insurance companies, blame the CIA, blame Wall Street, blame auto execs, keep blaming Bush, keep blaming Cheney, keep blaming the Republican minority in Congress" etc., etc. It's like they're addicts who just can't help themselves anymore.

    Since 2002, the Democrats are accountable for nothing that is wrong in this country or world. Must be nice.

    July 30, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  2. Pete East

    Great. Democrats have control of the House, Senate, and the White House; and they continue to blame every one.

    Except themselves of course. Watch this space.

    July 30, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  3. Jane

    Nancy, you play the blame game so well...keep getting facelifts and your ears will touch –or at least get as long as your lying nose.

    July 30, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  4. RobK

    If someone thinks the insurance companies are ripping them off and they are still doing business with them, that makes them appear quite foolish, doesn't it?

    July 30, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  5. ken

    I'm not an insurance company and I don't want the government in control of any health plans either.

    July 30, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  6. Bill

    Mr Moderator, thank you for allowing my post on the Barney Frank video on real clear politics that shows exactly what the aim of any public plan is..complete takeover and single payer system.

    To those that believe in single payer, fine lets debate it , but it is important not to hide behind this (Its just there as an option to keep insurance players honest, I dont want big governemnt ) line of horse hockey we have been getting.

    All we ask is that you stop trying to trick us and level with the American people and have them decide if they are with you as to your ultimate goal.

    July 30, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  7. Good Plan!

    People Read the Bill before you open your mouth. It is quite enlightening. I voted for Barak but, I hope the current plan fails. If this plan is so good for us American, why isn't congress going to be covered under this plan?

    July 30, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  8. Mike in MN

    Democrats are so messed up. Any industry that makes profits is evil. Yet as a nation, if private industry does not make solid profits, our economy fails and jobs are lost. No wonder the Obama/Pelosi stimulus was not designed to help business create jobs. The only jobs coming out of the stimulus are government jobs.
    Dems – private industry profits bad, bigger government good.

    July 30, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  9. Dona R.

    I hope the President, the Speaker, and the rest of congress would approve a plan, any plan and shove it down our throats regardless of how effective or expensive it is. We desperately need a huge change and the sooner people see it and get used to it the better. We can go back and fix it latter but we need to get started before the privateers can block it again.

    I would much rather pay a government bureaucrat to manage my healthcare than a private bureaucrat who's bonus depends on telling me I can't have the care I need.

    July 30, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  10. GI Joe

    I've already contacted my representatives both by phone and email.

    If they vote NO on the public option, I and my family will vote NO to their re-election.

    Too many people don't have company provided insurance and a lot of them can't pay the premiums (which go up every year) and the deductibles (which increase every year).

    July 30, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  11. Jero

    to tell u the truth can't blame the insurance companies, when the plan the dems have brings the government into the market as well. KEEP THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF THE MARKET! Instead, the obama administration should try to create a new market, instead of bashing the old, and blaming everyone, the problem is not health insurance, it's the government getting in the market as well!

    July 30, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  12. Provider

    Insurance companies are an enemy of health in America and the major cause of out of control health care cost. As a health care provider and a healthy American who feels ripped off by he insurance industry at both ends, I would LOVE to have a single payor, government run health care option on the table. Of course business is to make money. A fundamental question we need to be asking ourselves is should life and death decisions be used to make some people people filthy rich while others are deprived basic needs to realize the right to life, liberty, and persuit of happiness (all dependent on basic health). I view insurance execs with the same level of moral fiber as a mafia loan shark only the fromer is legal only in America.

    July 30, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  13. Sam

    So what's next? A state-owned oil company to compete with the oil majors? Then the gas prices will come down?!?

    I really wish the Govt. would start selling affordable cigarettes. Call them G-cigarettes.

    July 30, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  14. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    FOR PROFIT "Health Insurance" companies can continue to dole out health care (or not), as long as we let them, with impunity!
    The fact that insurance companies are the most aggressive in the quest to kill health care changes ("reform") SHOULD tell everyone, everything they need to know:

    If there is competition, they have to COMPETE... If they have to compete, they'll have to work harder, make less money and treat their customers like HUMANS instead of piggy banks that can be tossed aside when they run out of funds, or worse, need to USE the insurance they PAID FOR.
    At least with a Government option, we can get congress people on TV and embarrass them. As things are, Insurance Companies deny service and are never seen.

    July 30, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  15. Oregon calling

    Go figure. i know that this will not be posted but "Insurance" is the biggest SCAM of them all!!!!

    Peace :-)

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

    Elitist Boehner has the audacity to say we don’t think insurance cost too much. Sorry, but what?! Has Boener priced average family insurance lately or even know how much it costs us when we have to use it? Talk about being out of touch.

    Then again, Boehner has received over $1.7 million from that not-so-lily-white insurance/health/pharm industry.

    July 30, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  17. mjm

    CBO works for the insurance company?

    CBO said the Democrat's plan wouldn't work.

    Come up with a better plan and stop blamming corp America for everything.

    July 30, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  18. Robin in SC

    I've worked in health care administration for almost 20 years. I can tell you without a doubt that this is one thing Pelosi says that is absolutely correct. Insurers are the ones who ration care. Insurers are the ones who ratchet up premiums. Insurers are the ones who decide pre-existing conditions won't be covered. Insurers are the ones who beat providers down on prices to the point that the docs lose money. I'd love to see a single payer system and wish it weren't off the table. If all Americans could see what I see on a daily basis, health care would've been fixed before it was broken 20 years ago.

    July 30, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  19. Zero.

    You have not seen "The mess'. You have not even seen the begginig of the Mess. Barack Obama is the Mess.

    July 30, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  20. ib

    Peloski is the villian and the fact that people do not gov. controlled health care. Communism here we come big time if this passes.

    July 30, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  21. mjm

    BCBS has paid health care bills for decades. They have saved lives, they have saved loved ones.

    And now, they are the villains?

    Some of you are very ungrateful.

    July 30, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  22. Jack

    Let's make public the connections between congress and the opponents of healthcare reform!

    July 30, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  23. ken

    is eugenics really the ONLY option?

    July 30, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  24. Simon T Abela

    I am so tired of these Democrats, Blame is the fame for teh Democrats, keep Balme Bush for all the problems. I almost guarantee you that next year the Majority of Blue Representatives will be reduced.
    Get a life people.. Oh by the way The President had no bussiness mendling between the Stae Police and Professor Gates. In my opionion, it stupid and he should not made any comments what so ever. I am not racist, I love Black people but I think the President is sticking his nose where it should not be.
    Democracy what that? lets have a beer shall we?

    July 30, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  25. Excuse me?

    On this issue, Speaker Pelosi is correct. Time to shut down the huge profits handed out to big insurance funded by our medical conditions.

    July 30, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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