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. Adalbert

    The insurance companies are ripping us off for years. No one should be surprised that they want to maintain the gravy train. If we, the average American people, do not stop them, no one will.

    October 14, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Charlier Brown

    What the industry wants is the type of legislation that would give them millions and millions of young, healthy Americans and still be able to deny coverage to the sick and the old.

    Lying scumbags!!!!!

    October 14, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. mark

    This was done by an INDEPENDENT accounting firm, get over yourselves dems. Public options is dead!!!

    October 14, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. George

    Thank you AHIP, by declaring war on America, we are declaring war on you.

    The Senate is moving quickly to strip you of your anti-American Antitrust exemption status.

    Man do I miss the tobacco and gun lobbyists of the 90's, at least they had some skill.

    October 14, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. Larry S

    Come on CNN . . . show some of the facts . . . stop getting your information from the dorks in Congress . . . politicans are the worse place to get facts . . . I thought CNN was capable of getting to the facts like a normal new agency . . . but alas, I guess the reduction of your viewership proves you do not have what it takes to be a truthful and fair new group.

    October 14, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. sammieb51

    Ask a Canadian or European citizen about the healthcare "debate" in the US and they laugh - because we are too stupid to realize the advantage for us in the long run. The insurance companies are mad - OH WAAAH - not so mad when they got the billions from the medicare reform / prescription drug bill under Bush ha? They made the mess, run the show, tell my dr. what he can and can't do to me no matter what is wrong, tell the dr. how much they will pay and tell me how much I owe .... increase my premiums, deductibles, out of pocket costs, annually, all so they can keep their bottom line HIGH. And next year, when they have the reigns firmly in their hands, good luck anyone overwieght or smoking or drinking ... you won't have coverage for that or related illnesses. It should tell us all something when they cover VIAGRA but don't cover BIRTH CONTROL.

    But we are all so sleeeepy ha?

    October 14, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Liberals are Sneaky

    "We're going to have to, if you're very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too expensive...so we're going to let you die." Liberal Robert Reich, Economic Advisor for Barack Obama.

    October 14, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. KAREN

    How about the cadillac union plans? Talk about corruption. I want to keep my insurance and under this bill I will not. Please look at the lies.
    Fact: If your employer provides Health Insurance and you contibute a minamal amount your employer will opt out and go with the Government Option. Obama said time and time agian that this would not happen. Middle Class will be taxed, Obama said "Not one dime"
    The Republicans fought for the bill to be posted 72 hrs online. Obama promised and that didn't happen. Over and Over again he has stated in his montage of speeches lie after lie. THese are facts folks these are not talking points. No one person on here can argue that the bill should be posted on line before it is voted on. The only reason is they don't want us to see it in time to protest what Reid and Pelosi added behind closed doors. They ran on transparency, They ran on not one dime in new taxes, They ran on Change, and so far we have the opposite.

    October 14, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    If the insurance industry is against it, it MUST make things better for the consumer...

    I'M FOR IT!

    October 14, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  10. J

    "Going on the attack" They have been the source of alot of the resistance the whole time.

    Get with it CNN

    October 14, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    Here's how to pay for health care reform:

    1. Eliminate the top wage on which people pay FICA. Currently, you only pay FICA on the first $90,000 annual salary; eliminating this cap would bring in millions, if not billions, of additional revenue.

    2. Raise the top tax bracket from 36% to 39% (the level it was at under Ronald Reagan). Again, this would raise additional revenue, easily afforded by those who fall into this bracket.

    3. Cap insurance company CEO salaries at $1.5 million. Right now, CEOs average $14 million/year; Forbes reported that Cigna's CEO Edward Hanway has a 5-year compensation of $120.51 million. That's just wrong, given that these salaries are made possible by denying coverage to people who need medical treatment.

    October 14, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. Lynda

    It's all about MONEY for the insurance groups......GREED.......that is there bottom line......MONEY

    October 14, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  13. Jerry

    Medicare recipients...get ready...medical service cuts. "You die!"

    October 14, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. Nea

    If the insurance industry is going on attack something must be right about this bill no its not a perfect bill but they know that health care reform is on the way and it may lead to a public option maybe thats why they decide to attack now after all this time, Because why did they agree to work with the President but now are attacking reform?

    October 14, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. That Other Jerry

    This is a complete scam by the insurance industry. They have obviously planned all along to give lip service to reform, then attack whatever bill was offered for passage. They are trying to have it both ways. Congress needs to suck it up and just pass a real reform, with universal coverage, public option, and the whole package. They are never going to please the insurance lobby, and passing some pathetic watered-down attempt will make things worse for some and no better for most.

    October 14, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  16. LacrosseDad

    i trust the insurance companies before i trust this socialist regime.

    October 14, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  17. ICARE

    Hee.hee..hee... you mean 1 billion dollar cuts to the lobbyists? That is what they are afraid of....

    No matter what, we need reforms to make it affordable...
    Long live prevention care!!!

    October 14, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  18. KAREN

    Actually if this keeps up i would be better off going on unemployment, receiving HC, lowering my tax rate, getting financial aid from the administration to go back to school. And on top of that food stamps.
    i would have it made.

    October 14, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  19. Dave

    Insurance companies do not exist to help people, they exist to turn the biggest profit possible by taking money from you and me. If they're willing to spend millions to fight something, it's probably in our best interest to support it.

    October 14, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  20. hockey dad

    Why are people still paying attention to anything the Insurance companies puts out,... they've proven themselves to be greedy liars, bent on maintaining the status quo, and have no credibility, as shown by their latest bogus report from Cooper-Waterhouse. Seniors have nothing to fear from this bill, ..otherwise groups like AARP would be railing against it. STOP THE LIES AND FEAR MONGERING.

    October 14, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. Ken in NC

    We need to back to the times when health insurance was a not for profit business. Now I have no problem with a reasonble profit being made but when you begin to make that profit by denying services or cllaims to increase profits resulting to increased risk to the policy holder, I draw the line. I say put them out of business if they cannot compete.

    October 14, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain

    It's one thing to make a profit, but when it literally comes on the backs of people's lives, that is immoral and wrong.

    It all comes down to your values: people vs. money.

    The majority of Americans (65%) want a public option; insurance companies and their stockholders (the largest of which are the CEOs running those companies) choose money.

    We are at a crossroads as a nation, when we either live up to the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or we sell out to the almighty buck.

    October 14, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  23. Alex

    Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution states:

    "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United State"

    Tell Congress to DEFEND Americans against greedy corrupt Insurance companies and provide WELFARE to all!!!!

    Insurance companies bottom line and sole motivation is profit, not the welfare of the American people. Congress has an obligation to protect us from them!


    October 14, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. Reformed Republican

    With the extortion threats and fear mongering these health insurance thugs are pulling on us now they should be in "Goodfellas".

    Here's their hustle:
    Vote for health care reform with a public option and they will raise your premiums and deductables...

    Don't vote for health care reform with a public option and they will raise your premiums and deductables.

    Now those are two choices that only criminals can offer people as a "good deal"...

    October 14, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  25. Ryan

    If insurance companies cared about the people then they wouldn't have " pre-existing conditions" clauses.

    There is no evidence this would drive up costs. This is the insurance industry actually THREATENING us!

    How DARE they???

    October 14, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
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