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

Top Dems blame insurance industry as health care roadblock

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/18/art.pelosihand0618.gi.jpg caption="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. Rita D. Molengraft

    Pelosi needs to home and listen to what her constituents have
    to say (of course they're all goofy too).

    Looks who's calling the kettle black!!

    July 30, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. Daisy

    Free market principles do not work with Health Insurance because it is NOT something you can shop around for. If you want it, you have to take what you can get.

    July 30, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. SickandTired, FL

    I worked for an HMO and their sole mission was to drop as many customers as possible, while avoiding any legal ramifications. The more you dropped, the more you were paid in "bonuses". Something is very wrong with that, especially in this so-called "Christian nation".
    In this country.......................it's all about a buck!


    July 30, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. Merigold

    George W. and fellow Republicans gave the Insuranee Industry full rein. Thats what Repunoicans did for us!!!

    July 30, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. J of K

    I would ask, if this healthcare plan is sooooo great, then why are the congress EXEMPT from participating. They get to keep their very lucrative and lavish lifestyle while they keep telling the rest of us – there needs to be sacrifice and WE need to share the wealth. IF IT IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR US, REMEMBER, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO WORK FOR THE PEOPLE, THEN ALL THE THE VOTED INTO OFFICE SHOULD ALSO BE INCLUDED. I BET WE WOULD SEE BETTER GOVERNMENT AND BETTER EVERYTHING IF THEY HAD TO LIVE WITH WHAT THEY EXPECT THE VOTER TO LIVE WITH !!!!

    July 30, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Of course the insurance industry wants to make as much money as possible, and with their deep pockets they will try anything to minimize the "damage" to their botton lines.

    Watch to see how many lobbyists show up to try to get as many changes as possible through.

    The insurance has brought this on by their greed, now they don't like this.

    July 30, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. Bill

    Attn: ANYONE WHO IS LIVING UNDER FANTASY THAT ANY PUBLIC OPTION IN ANY FORM IS NOT THE DESIGNED FIRST STEP TOWARD SINGLE PAYER GOVT RUN CARE, you must listen to Barney Franks startling admission of that very strategy. It is on Drudge. Posters, defenders of conservative liberties, spread the word.

    And Liberals, it is OK, this is the best for the country. Finally , we can have a more respectful debate since the true goal we knew all along is revealed. Lets debate the long term known outcome.

    July 30, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. Emily, Vienna VA

    Funny to see people praising and defending such unbridled corporate greed.......meanwhile, they struggle to pay their premiums. Only in Bizarro Republicanville!

    July 30, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  9. Fla.

    The greedy insurance & pharmaceutical industry should be ashamed of itself! That includes ANY public servant doing their immoral bidding, instead of working towards real healthcare reforms for the American people.

    July 30, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  10. Kate in SW Fla

    It IS the Insurance Industries fault. Ask yourself this? What, exactly, do Insurance Companies contribute towards making Americans healthy? Doctors? yes Nurses? yes Drug companies? yes Therapists? yes Guys who make everything from X-ray machines to band-aids? yes. All of these providers help contribute to health care and should be paid for and be able to amke a profit from health care. Insurance Companies do not add one thing of value to the process. Instead, they suck off about 15% of all the dollars spent in this country for healtch care and give nothing back excpet a bunch of hurdles and red tape. NOTHING! The "value added" claim of these companies is a bunch of bull!

    July 30, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  11. Proud Member..Party of No

    I love my health care as it is. My medical care is excellent and my insurance company is great to work with. It couldn't be better.

    July 30, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  12. Betts

    If you have inusrance now and think that this isn't your problem, you'd better think again. I have insurance, however, trying to pay off what the Insurance company didn't is sending me into bankruptcy. Before long, NO one will be able to afford any medical care. God bless one and all.

    July 30, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  13. JS

    You are nothing but a self centered joke and should be run out of office. It's a sad day when she spends more on what she wants and her city that the insurance people do.

    I hope she doesn't get re-elected we would be better off with out her never ending bad comments unless it's what she wants.

    July 30, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  14. Bob

    Wow, talk about the pot calling the kettle black. A few short months ago we HAD to bail out AIG, an insurance company no doubt, or the world would collapse. So, first insurance companies had to be saved and now the are demons. Evidently politicians can change their minds in a heart beat. If AIG was making so much money, why were they in a position to fail? Guess you won't ever hear truth come from either Senator Reid or Rep. Pelosi. So sad, you can't trust leadership in DC.

    July 30, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. RickyinNY

    Where you see an insurance lobbyist is where you'll find a Republican. No kidding.

    July 30, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. Danny, WA

    This woman is a witch. She has yet to respond to her 'lying' about the CIA briefings. How can she escape from her explanation. Besides she does not know how private insurance company are operating. This is the blame-game that Democrats play including Barack Obama. Get a life..

    July 30, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    A Blue Cross Blue Shield example of how they reimburse:

    Charge = $180 (4 units of P.T.)
    Reimbursement = $48
    Pt. copay = $25
    $ written off by provider = $107

    Clearly, the insurance company can cough up some more money!

    July 30, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  18. liz

    Pelosi's right! keeping the insurance industry in the healthcare system while trying to 'fix' it is like giving a facelift to a patient who needs a heart transplant. single-payor is the only way to truly fix the system and make it work for everyone. HR-676 is twenty-seven perfectly clear, sensible, workable pages, not 1000 pages of compromises and gobbledygook that's only a band-aid solution.

    July 30, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  19. Jon in CA

    Ahh yes... those EVIL companies!!

    Big Oil = Evil
    Big Healthcare/Pharma = Villians
    Big Utility Companies = Devilish

    Big Government = wonderful, honest, trustworthy, efficient....

    (eyes rolling)

    July 30, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  20. Kevin B

    She is right, insurance company execs have gotten very rich off of denying americans the very coverage they purchase to the point people are literally dying waiting for insurance companies to pay.

    the whole idea of this type of insurance is to take in a much money as possible, without paying anything or the very minimal.

    Face it america you have been robbed blind by these companies for years and too stupid to even know it, and now being manipulated into voting against you own interest.

    Unfortunately, americans can be breath takenly naive and pliable.

    July 30, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. lil

    I blame the republican and blue dog democrates.

    July 30, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  22. Jason

    So you can afford health insurance huh? But can you afford to pay the costs that your insurance company refused to pay? The costs are rising and rising. The sky is the limit. Can you afford to pay that? Wake up America, we need Reform now!!

    July 30, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  23. Trade Freedom for Security, Lose Both

    Hey Nancy, maybe if your Democrat colleagues weren't accepting so much money from insurance companies and trial lawyers, then they wouldn't hold power over you. Quit making excuses and playing the blame game.

    July 30, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. Kate in SW Fla

    And, Americans DO want another government run program. They voted for it, why can they not have it? Obama specifically said he wanted to give us a choice, INCLUDING a public option. He won the election by a landslide. WHY can we not have a public option? WHY????

    July 30, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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