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. Steph

    If it isn't obvious to you by this point that the insurance industry is holding us hostage, it will never sink in...

    October 14, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. AJ

    Its time to shut the insurance industry out of the equasion and start putting the health and welfare of America first!

    October 14, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  3. Pam

    Medicare Advantage is NOT Medicare !

    Medicare Advantage is private insurance carriers managing your Medicare coverage for you, for a price!

    October 14, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  4. Tom L

    STOP saying things that aren't true. Republicans do want reform. They just have different ideas on that reform.

    Wow, Democrats are amazing. Just say anything and demonize the other side. It doesn't matter if it's true or not, the ends justify the means.

    October 14, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  5. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Get a job with an insurance company and enjoy their big bonus checks, Xmas parties, fancy cocktail hours, that's the only way to stop them from ripping you off.

    October 14, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  6. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    For the vast majority of our country's history the Insurance business was an illegal activity. So why our Government feels it has to enter into this type of fraud is beyond me.
    The simple answer is to out law insurance business everywhere as the fraud it is.

    October 14, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  7. fred

    May God have mercy on each one of us and on the charlaton insurance companies.

    October 14, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  8. Obama Victim

    Unions are against this....already taking ads out against it.....Insurance companies will come out strong.......Obama is impotent.....significant reform has no chance...and if you think it will happen?? well... I would like to talk to you about some ocean front property is Arizona

    October 14, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  9. Tina, NC

    Wouldn't you expect the insurance industry to oppose a plan that eliminates paying them 100 billion dollars for Medicare Advantage? They should have never been allowed involvement in Medicare to begin with.

    October 14, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If you were listening to All Things Considered on NPR yesterday, then you would have heard that there was a note from the group that did the review. It stated that they only looked at a few things and not all of the provisions in the bills. It was also noted that there could be other changes along the way. We don't know if all the changes are going to drop the cost of health insurance or raise and by how much. The one thing is that we need more people to have.

    October 14, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. OldUncleTom

    The insurance industry needs a not-so-gentle reminder that they are about as critical to health care as a pimp is to another profession. They contribute little, if anything, to the ultimate transaction, yet skim their percentage off the top anyway.

    October 14, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. Brian from NJ

    PS. How HYPOCRITICAL of the Democrats to want to "cut" Medicare…… when the Democrats were FOR MEDICARE & called it …… social responsibility!

    October 14, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. Fnord-a-saurus Rex

    haha. It's always amusing to watch preditory coorperations try flip the script on the public.

    Also news. . .

    Cigarettes dont cause cancer. . . Independent study from theTobbacco farmers of the US.

    High fructose Corn syrup is good for you. . . .Paid for by the Corn farmers of America.

    Fast food is perfectly healthy. . . .paid for bhy McDonalds Inc.

    so funny.

    Can we just get a public option? We all know it's the right thing to do.

    October 14, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. Open Your 3rd Eye

    Well, they must be right. They are the industry.


    October 14, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  15. sick and tired!!!!!

    waaaaah, waaaaaah, waaaaaaah, waaaaaah. Cry me a river!!!! I'm tired of paying these inflated insurance premiums, so the big fat cats who run the insurance companies can continue to rape the American public of their hard earned money. We need a public option if nothing more than to give the insurance companies some real competition. plplplplplplplplplplpl to them. Have a nice day.

    October 14, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. Enough

    Killing Granny! Grayson got it wrong, it is the Democrats that want you to die when you are old. If there is so much fraud and waste in Medicare, what are they waiting for? Cut it now, you don't need a bill to fix things.

    October 14, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  17. Sean

    Typical behavior from a wounded, cornered animal. Profits first, people's health second, right insurance industry? Sorry....we're ready to put health first now, so you better learn to adapt.

    October 14, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  18. Debbie from VA

    Let's be fair. The 45,000 people dying each year because they do not have health care study was conducted by a partisan doctor who wants national health care. Please put down the kool aid and let's fairly analyze the results of the study. I'm not saying that the study was incorrect but I am sick and tired of partisans on both sides telling us half a story. We should not be so gullible to believe what we want to believe. We need a Snopes type of site for these partisan studies. Too many of you on this blog want to deny any ideas of the other side. What happened to give and take and a true exchange of all ideas not just yours.

    October 14, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  19. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    There has never been a time when health care premiums have not been increased. Worst is the Medicare Supplements and Rx plans the insurance companies offer that is supposed to cover the gaps in Medicare coverage. However, if someone on Medicare only has one fixed income like social security and maybe, just maybe, a little pension left you can't afford the extra supplemental premimums anyway. There used to be a $0 premium for a very very basic supplemental plan (not including Rx) in some states, but even those have been eliminated by the insurance companies.

    October 14, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  20. One who might get sick

    I have reservations about aspects of the Baucus bill, most importantly the lack of a public option which would model a different way to do things. That the insurance industry is lobbying against the bill however is proof that there are aspects of the bill that warrant support. If they're against it, we should be for it; working however to improve it.
    If the insurance industry were to support the final product, it is unlikely it would be because they have come around to doing what is best for the country. It would be because the aspects to which it objected were removed. I doubt that they would come to the conclusion that they are sufficiently derided that their cynical support is the best way to get it defeated.

    October 14, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. Michael

    Of course they do- they see a threat to their GREED – I will be happy for reform that includes a PUBLIC OPTION that will finally get past the Party of NO and Corporate thieves that fill their pockets.The Dems that are in the same situation beware!

    October 14, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    One question has been answered, once and for all, and that is where the "Seniors theme" originated: the insurance companies. The Republicans are aligned with the insurance companies providing them with the first ground attack: the Tea Parties and the Death Panel scare tactic. The cavalry has now arrived in the form of an innundation of fear and misinformation ads paid for by the insurance companies.
    The old one-two punch. Whose your daddy Rethugs? Whose the hand that overfeeds you? Who tucks you in at night?THE INSURANCE COMPANIES.

    October 14, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. Larry S

    A FACT not stated is . . . insurance companies are NOW regulated by govermental agencies . . . so don't blame the insurance comapanies when as usual the problem is the goverment. However, a lot of you believe the goverment will help the issue . . . but again, this is only a 'hope' because the goverment has proven over and over and over that they are not capable of doing the right things at the right cost. Come on people, show some sense and do not belive what the stupid politicans are saying. Stop showing the igonance you have learned from the liberal groupies.

    October 14, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  24. Daniel M

    How many amendments in favor of the GOP has been added to the bill? 150? And after all this GOP "cutting down on unnecessary spending" the democrats still cant have a public option? what part of bipartisan dont they understand? is bipartisan when the GOP gets what ever they want, nothing the democrats want, and the democrats get to be demonized? Bipartisanship seems to be quite partisan and in favor of the GOP, at least how the GOP defines it. I feel bad for legit conservatives who will look stupid in history books in the future for what their senators are doing now, acting ballsy and overjustified and that negotiation is their word for ignoring the opposition. All they seem to do now a days is just oppose everything and try to maintain their tightly knit group.

    October 14, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  25. Hammerer

    The healthcare plan is to tax the working middle class $1 trillion dollars to provide healthcare for somewhere around 50 million people that are to lazy to work, illegally in the country or just looking for a free ride.
    The congress that the voters rank lower than whale poop are telling us that they have a plan that can't fail and 40% believe them. And this has become the American way!

    October 14, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
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