October 14th, 2009
12:32 PM ET
13 years ago

Insurance industry goes on the attack

[cnn-photo-caption image= [cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/14/art.medicarechoices.org.jpg caption="America's Health Insurance Plans, has now hit the airwaves with a massive ad buy attacking the bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee."]

WASHINGTON (CNN) - After holding its fire for much of the year while being criticized by members of Congress and administration officials, the insurance industry is now going on the attack.The industry's trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans, has now hit the airwaves with a massive ad buy attacking the bill passed Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee.

"Most people agree we need to reform health care but is it right to ask 10 million seniors on Medicare Advantage for more than their fair share. Congress has proposed more than $100 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage," the ad states, referring to the private insurance plan offered by Medicare to some recipients.

The ad - which airing in Louisiana, Colorado, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico and Pennsylvania - does not mention specific legislators, but does ask viewers to "call your senators and tell them we need health care reform that protects seniors." The group will not say how much it is spending on the ad buy, but does say it is in the seven-figure range.

For its actions AHIP is drawing fire from critics since it had participated in talks for several months about how to achieve health care reform and had previously aired an ad supporting supporting the concept.

Earlier this week, the group released a controversial study it commissioned claiming the Senate Finance Committee bill would result in premium increases of up to $4,000 for a family. However, the study conducted by the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers did not take into account some of the proposed subsidies that would be offered to low-income families to help them pay for insurance, and the firm has said such provisions would offset some of the impact it estimated.

Congressional Democrats and the White House have blasted the industry for releasing the report on the eve of the Finance Committee's vote, and charged that the analysis is flawed.

"The insurance industry ought to be ashamed of this report," Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, said Tuesday during the Senate Finance Committee debate. "It's a powerful argument, frankly, for why we ought to have a public plan. It's a powerful argument for the attitude of an industry towards this effort. There's an old saying – if you're not part of the solution you are part of the problem.

The industry "made a huge mistake" releasing the report, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, told CNN Wednesday. For groups who are opposing the health care bills he said it is "much better to be part of a solution."

When asked on CNN's The Situation Room about the controversy surrounding the report, Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of AHIP, said it was meant to look at issues related to the industry's goal of extending insurance to as many people as possible.

"That's been the objective from the beginning, to get everybody in, so we can have a complete overhaul of insurance market reform. And this is what we support," said Ignagni. "We strongly support the president. We strongly support the Senate Finance Committee and every other committee that's proposed market reform. But to make that work, based on what happens in the states, you have to have everybody participating."

As the effort to achieve health care reform now moves to the next stage, with the Senate and House trying to blend their various bills into one piece of legislation, experts say you can expect to see groups on all sides weighing in with more ads as they highlight specific proposals they want to push or kill.

CNN's ad consultant Evan Tracey, of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, says that more than $124 million has been spent so far this year by all sides on health care advertising.

Filed under: Congress • Health care
soundoff (188 Responses)
  1. Dusty Mills

    Everyone had to know this was coming.....the insurance industry has spent millions and will continue to do so, to keep reform from becoming law. Do not fall for their lies.....they will say anything, will scare even the most frail among us, to continue this legalized theft of Americans hard-earned dollars.

    I hope there is a special place in hell for the shareholders of the insurance companies.....their demands for profit over life should be condemed by all.

    October 14, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  2. Health Insurers - The Republican PiggyBankers

    Like their republican toadies, the insurers have a condition known as "metathesiophobia", or the fear of change.

    They have a secondary condition that republicans have labored long to protect known as: "We'llLoseTheAbilityToExploitPeopleForOutrageousProfitaphobia"

    They should be unequivocally denied coverage for both conditions.

    October 14, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  3. Jeff

    "Insurance indsustry goes on the attack"

    An expected response after months of the insurance industry being attacked by the media, Congress, President.

    If you don't like their service, or think it costs more than it is worth, DON'T USE IT!! It's that simple. No trillion dollar laws have to be written, doesn't have to wait until 2013 (conveniently after the 2012 elections, though 'We have to act now'). As a consumer, take responsibilty and keep the industry in line.

    October 14, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. Simmy

    Big businesses have no souls........

    October 14, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  5. Health Care Employee

    I work in a call center. I spend the whole day turning people down. These are actual customers, that have paid in full, most of whom have been on time all the time. My job is to tell the doctor not to help them, or why we refuse to help them now that the service is being called into action.

    Our product works great for those who aren't about to die, who's life doesn't depend on the plan. I just wonder how many people I have killed in my career of telling suffering customers (aka Victims) to go die and not bother us.

    October 14, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. Steve the Soothsayer

    One of the comments mentioned the AARP and their take on reform. It is worthy of note that the AARP, in opposing Medicare Advantage Plans, is in a direct conflict of interest. The AARP, as a marketer of United Healthcare's (UHC) Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans, get's a cut from UHC for every policy it sells to the public. Since Medicare Supplement plans are in direct competition with Medicare Advantage Plans (and typically more expensive to the consumer), the AARP is not necessarily working to the advantage of seniors, but toward its own enrichment.

    October 14, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  7. John M, NoHo

    Let's raise money for a good cause: "Save the condos, yachts and jets"

    October 14, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  8. Moderate Democrat

    As one moron has stated, let's be fair. The 45000 americans that die each year under the current health care system, just don't matter. Let them die...because that's fair!

    October 14, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. RO

    Americans..wake up! Can you not tell that the insurance companies have us exactly where they want us? If we wimper and run whenever they feed us "mistruths", they will continue to have the power over us. Even the former Cigna CEO (who resigned) is trying to expose how the insurance companies are just after $$~ this man used to fight against reform and now, he is all for it.

    October 14, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  10. lila

    If big insurance's is on the attack then I see it as proof that be are going in the correct direction.

    October 14, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  11. sharon

    that is such an old ,old, old record.........SCARE THE ELDERLY........
    CAN THIS INDUSTRY.....that 's right.....INDUSRTY........ not find a HONORABLE way, forward.........

    does IT have to keep lieing?????????????????????????

    IT has dumped whoever IT wanted when ever IT wanted.....................................................now is the time to dump IT.

    P U B L I C C H O I C E .........P U B L IC C H O I C E ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

    October 14, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  12. WI Cheesehead

    As long as healthcare is a commodity that can be traded on Wall Street in form of “for profit Insurance Companies”, affordable healthcare will remain but a pipedream for all of us.

    October 14, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. GP

    What exactly do health insurance companies provide? They shuffle paper, pay a board of directors healthy sums of money that could otherwise be used to provide care for their customers.

    I'm not clear on just what exactly it is that insurance companies do that the government can not do.

    The government would not have a profit motive leveraging coverage decisions.

    Most anyone is no less than a cancer or chronic disease diagnosis away from financial ruin. The game has been rigged against We The People for far to long.

    October 14, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
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