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. FactCheck

    The only way to truly improve healthcare is go after the insurance companies' anti-trust status. These grubbers are colluding to make big bucks off your illness.

    October 14, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. LacrosseMom

    PS. How HYPOCRITICAL of the Republicans to want to "protect" Medicare...... when the Republicans were AGAINST MEDICARE & called it ...... socialism!

    October 14, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. Tania

    How much money/profit is enough? While at the same time telling a family that the mother with cancer had a pre-existing condition!? We all do! No morals, no conscience, no scruples, only greed. And yet their families are covered, right? No pre-existing conditions to reject for them!

    October 14, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. Carl from MI

    They are going to lose billions and billions of profits... of course they're going to use every lie and scare tactic and congressional bribe to stop a bill that will cut into their filthy-rich paychecks and bonuses!!

    Once again, it's not about Country First, Citizen's First, or even Live and Family Values... it's ENTIRELY ABOUT THE MONEY!!

    And money is the only thing that runs Big Business and the Republican party. That and Boss Limbaugh's big mouth... hahaha

    October 14, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  5. A Real American

    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.

    Al you need to know is who's interest America's Health Insurance Plans is working for. If they don't like the bill then it must be a good one.

    October 14, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. victor

    ohhh yes!!! lets listen to the rich people who make money off of everyone's pain! cnn = what a joke...

    October 14, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. diridi

    these insurance idiots keep on spending money...I wish they give as donation to health care reform to reduce its burden...at least americans will benifit....America, do not listen to these insurance IDIOTS,,,,,,,

    October 14, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. Peoples Voice

    Is this to say they have not already been on the attack.

    Are they worried all the prostitutes they bought in Congress will not be enough?

    October 14, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. ANGIE IN PA

    Get ready folks the Insurance companies are about to get real NASTY Cant wait to see what they start throwing out there (shaking my head)

    October 14, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  10. Mac

    I can almost guarantee their intent is to protect ONLY their OWN interests and are using Medicare for seniors as a straw man argument to give credibility to their message.

    October 14, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. Health Care another union bailout on the way?

    In politics, if you want to know in advance how a piece of legislation is going to fare – simply follow the money. The Obama White House and the Democrats in Congress are a Pay to Play Party. They vote where their money comes from. In the matter of health care reform, that is the Labor Unions .... and the unions want a public option AND no new taxes - In short, they need a bailout to save them billions for their own pension and health care benefits to their retirees and current workers- They want to be bailed out by Obama.

    If Obama and the Dems go with pelosi and the unions, who loses? Seniors on Medicaid and Mediacare as their benefits are cut. Also, small business owners lose as the unions are looking for them to foot the bill.

    October 14, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. Republicans Hate America

    Wow – shocker! Republicans AND Insurance Companies don't want reform. Shouldn't THAT tell you everything you needed to know?

    October 14, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  13. Idiot_Pelosi

    Of course the insurance companies are profit based, what companies aren't?

    You naive fools who believe it will be cheaper with GOVT control are nuts.

    You go on the GOVT plan, you pay the taxes and fees, and leave the rest of us alone.

    October 14, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  14. seebofubar

    Poor Bozo, looks like nobody likes his little bill.

    October 14, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  15. JB

    The behavior of the Insurance Industry proves that we need the Public Option. They are will to lie about this issue so they prove themselves untrustworthy.

    October 14, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  16. Pam

    The insurance industry has one objective – to make a profit.

    If my group insurance premiums go way up, it is only because my insurance carrier wants to raise my premuims so they can make a bigger profit!

    October 14, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  17. Deborah/Kansas City

    Insurance compaines are telling you what they will do; if left to their own and not challenged by a Public Option. They will raise your premiums and out of pocket expenses at exaggerated rates to protect their 425% profit margin. Medciare advantage does not do anything to improve on Medicare itself. All they do is deny care and Rx drugs to patients. Medicare Advantage, managed by Aetna, Humana, Blue Cross and other of the big insurance companies; treats seniors on Medicare just like they treat the rest of us, deny care, fight every Dr's order; approve only the cheepest medication even if it will not be effective. Straight Medicare does not do that and is not managed by insurance compaines. When will you all wake up? The Insurance Companies will fight with all they have to keep control of us and keep their profits ever rising. They are promising they will. That is why we need a Pubilc Option and we need to do away with any Medicare Advantage (should be called disadvantage) programs.

    October 14, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  18. Ren from Baltimore

    Yes, in fact, it is fair to ask everyone to pay their fair share. My generation-boomers-has had it all too easy, healthwise. We're eating, smoking and drinking what we want, as often we want. We're not as lazy as we used to be, but that's not saying much.

    So, we have no right to impose a huge health care bill on our kids and their kids. We've brought this on ourselves. We also brought on the recession, the "wars," climate change...all in the name of let's have it all, now! Thanks to us, too, you have eight years of the former administration. Sorry doesn't cut it one bit, we agree.

    So what if we have a few aches and pains, if we lose a little off our oh-so-important final years. What we need to give back is quality years to our succeeding generations. Now.

    October 14, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. Johnny B

    Protect Seniors? How about they spending millions of dollars to protect their profits! They are using seniors as the fuel to fight reform, look at the Insurance Industries motive.
    Is AARP putting out the advertisement? No
    Who care about seniors more, AARP or the Insurance Industry?

    October 14, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. Jane

    Once again – the slimeballs in the insurance industry rear their greedy heads! First they issue an incomplete audit report on the health bill and now – the threats of higher premiums. If anyone really believed premiums wouldn't go up with or without health reform – what planet are you living on? I personally would like to know when Congress will have te backbone to actually regulate the Health Insurance industry instead of catering to them. I would like to know really how many Americans are happy with their insurance preiums going up 20 – 40% per year depending on how much profit the health insurance companies think they need to have.

    A single payer system really does not look that bad to me!

    October 14, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  21. Bob in Pa

    What ever happened to personal responsibility and paying your own way ?

    October 14, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. wait a minute

    It is clear that President Obama wants to cut Medicare wastes, not benefits. However, Medicare wastes are private insurers and medical industry complex's profits so, of course, private insurers would paint the government black for trimming wastes, that is, profits for corporations.

    We should never let any private companies involved in government run insurance such as Medicare or national flood insurance. These are simply handouts from politicians to for-profit corporations under the name of creation of useless jobs with zero productivity in exchange for campaign donations. We cannot afford to count on these useless sectors for our future economy. We need to trim them down for a better future.

    Get private insurers out of health care and install public option to save costs and cover us all.

    October 14, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. Steph

    I'm calling my senators and congresswoman right now telling them we need health care reform!

    October 14, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. New Day

    Well, it looks like the wolves have shed their sheep's clothing. I'm all for profit but, not at the expense of our citizen's health.

    October 14, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  25. Ex-NC-Pub

    When there is an exorcism at hand, the voices of the demons grow louder....

    October 14, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
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