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. Wake Up

    The media is so screwed up. So the insurance industry has LESS of a right than corrupt UNIONS to talk about this issue??? Insurance industry is correct....if they are forced to changed policies, of course cost will go up. Why is that a shock??

    October 14, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. Jim

    should we have expected anything different? their profits are threatened. they are bound to come up with some arguement to try to protect that all important (to them) bottom line.

    October 14, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. Tony

    Insurance companies are profit based...anything they say is gauged to increase their profits and their executive bonuses.

    October 14, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  4. Melissa

    The insurance companies are a bunch of lying thieving scumbags and anyone that believes a word out of their mouths is a fool.

    October 14, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. Dana

    It doesnt matter what the Insurance Company adds say- because we know their motive is profit and NOT Protecting the people... so thats wasted $$ right there! The American people are not as stupid and gullible as they hope we are and we will prove it!

    October 14, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. Chas

    Hmmmm The insurance companies that created this mess are now calling any new plan "flawed". Must be they finally see they handwriting on the wall that their days are numbered just like all those big banking giants that came crawling to get help for the mess they created. No crying towels AT ALL for these health robbers.

    October 14, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. New Era

    The Insurance industry sees it's large profits $$$$ going bye-bye.

    October 14, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. bellablue

    Certainly! They realize their days of TAKING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO THE CLEANERS, soon will be over, and quite frankly, they are very angry about it!!! Like the credit card companies, it's all about the $$$$$$!!!! The White House and Congress had better watch these companies BEFORE AND AFTER the bill is signed and put into law, because, like the credit card companies, the insurance companies, will have their CEO's and other Administrators, working OVERTIME, to initiate new rules that the insured will have to comply with! It seems there is always a LOOP HOLE! And they will be looking for one!!!

    October 14, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Jann in Denver

    Why anyone would believe anything the insurance industry has to say is beyond me. They have been ripping us off for years; now all of a sudden when their profits are threatned they want us to believe them? Give me a break, and stop treating me like I'm some kind of fool.

    October 14, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. Christian Values

    Great, they are spending all that money on commercials, meanwhile, there are hundreds of people today that will be slaughtered by them, and they won't blink an eye.

    Insurance companies see nothing wrong with killing 45000 people a year for some extra cash so they can make commercials supporting their practice of mass genocide!

    October 14, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. Jay T.

    You know what, this bill might actually be good if the Health Insurance Industry is this upset about it . Because, you'd have to be brain dead to think the industry has anything other than their own profits in mind here. Put in the public option and these pigs can find another way to make millions off other people's misfortunes.

    October 14, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Feeling the heat guys? Maybe your free ride on the backs of the poor and working class is over?

    October 14, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. wg

    Always a good sign when the insurance companies start attacking. means their nervous and somethings being done right...

    October 14, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. Rick from Murfreesboro, TN

    More scare tactics from the big insurance agencies. Why isn't it reported that the "impartial" studies that they are using to scare people are paid for by the insurance companies. They intend to raise their premiums whether the new laws will affect them or not. It is just another excuse by them to gouge the last pennies out of sick and scared people. Without a public option to keep them in line there is no real reform.

    October 14, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  15. Hugo

    Insurance industry profits are out of the frame while ordinary citizens are being milked like the cash cow! Even knowing this, I say NO to Government run healthcare in any form, let government regulate the insurance industry not the American people. If Government were doing its job in the first place it would have regulated the INDUSTRY to correct the glitches and assure a FAIR and level ground for a FREE Market. The Federal Government now wishes to control healthcare? Give me a break, we need more from the idiots in DC like Chris Dodd that regulated and relaxed or removed banking and finance regulations that have nearly destroyed us!

    October 14, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. Speaking for Liberals

    "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."

    This statement is mistaken, incorrect, untrue, flawed. Most people know that the angry mobs that showed up to the town hall meetings held during the Congressional recess were organized by health insurance companies. All of the lies and misinformation about healthcare reform was put out there by health insurance companies. We all know that they have thousands of lobbyists working members of congress and making donations to them. The insurance industry has been on the attack from Day 1. They just putting out TV commericals now, but they have always been on the attack.

    October 14, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. J.P.

    A "public" option is really in effect a GOVERNMENT option.

    What that means, is that YOUR government holds a gun to MY head, demanding MY wallet, in order to pay for "stuff" YOU consume but are too lazy to work/sacrifice to obtain.

    End result... people who actually pay federal income taxes WILL revolt. The government cannot put 30 million of the most motivated people and biggest tax payers in prison... neither for logistical reasons nor the outright economic pinch it will put on the big spenders in DC.

    Expect to see Galt's Gulch before 2012.

    October 14, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. FactCheck

    The slime-balls running these insurance companies make the banking industry leaders look like Mother Theresa. They have absolutely no conscience about anything.

    October 14, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Paul

    Get ready to be attacked by the Presidential Propoganda ministry at the White House.

    October 14, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  20. Steph

    The more the insurance companies attack the more we want a public option!

    October 14, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  21. REG in AZ

    TV ads are currently trying to sell Senator Jon Kyl as being sincere in protecting Medicare and as wanting to get health care reform right, trying to present him as being conscientious for the average American. … Why? Kyl’s history clearly demonstrates his stubborn and arrogant strong support for everything favoring Special Interests and as just being a ‘puppet’ for the powerful and influential few, always being persistent in boldly repeating their scripted subterfuge, word for word. Are they starting their manipulation of public opinion to try to sell him so he can be one of their primary ‘puppets’, aggressively doing their bidding? If you recognize just how drastic the costs were to the average American with the Bush-Cheney ‘puppet’ presidency, you better hope we never see the likes of Palin-Kyl. Talk about gross dishonesty, self-indulgence, arrogance and being sociopathic without any conscience, either one could make Bush look like an altar-boy.

    October 14, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  22. Dale

    Listening to Big Insurances' opinion of health care reform is like listening to Dick Cheney's opinion of the legality of torture. It is the perpetrators' opinion on the wrongs they have committed.

    October 14, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. bob in LA

    When Insurance companies are backing ads, you know that the bill must be good. The insurnace giants are afraid to lose thier hold on healthcare.
    DON'T BE FOOLED- Congress will get this as close to correct as possible, because reform is important.
    If you don't believe it- ask anyone who had coverage in 1993 if they have the same benefits as then and at what cost.. Their rates are up and coverage is down. Hillary went about it incorrectly, but the need was correct. – WE ARE BEING TAKEN.
    And Medicare is face! There is no prvision to cut it anywhere, in any proposal.

    October 14, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  24. Randolph Carter, the evil Obamabot

    Guess who's paying for those ads? That's right, you and me. Have a nice day!

    October 14, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  25. Family Guy in NJ

    Break the monopoly and watch prices fall.

    Remember Bell Telephone? They used to charge extra if you called across the street! Now you can call anywhere for peanuts.

    The insurance companies should be begging us for business, not the other way around.

    October 14, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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