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. Kathie

    Go look at how much money the top three insurance companies donated to Obama and Congress last year, this bill is payback as was the sweetheart deal Obama cut with big pharma. Maybe now folks you'll know how important it was to vet Obama and what a different world it would be if the media had not become an arm of his campaign. Hope and change is not a substitute for experience, character, and accomplishments, which used to be the criteria and for good reason. Obama will say anything, do you get it now?

    October 14, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. Republicans are the American Taliban

    Don't you guys get it? The baby boomers are COMING!!! and the insurance industry is desperately trying to divert the stampede over a cliff....

    October 14, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  3. Right Leaning Independent

    Lets see, Obama basically wants to put private health insurance out of business and morons on here are disgusted that they they have finally started fighting against Obama's plan! I do not blame them one bit and personally I do not want Government run insurance. I believe that there are health care reforms that can take place including temporary insurance for those that are down on their luck but trying to find a job, capping insurance profits, stopping the policy of denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and not allowing insurance companies to drop patients that get sick! That is reform most Americans would support!

    October 14, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. Roger

    All citizens should be out raged with the insurance companies AND yes call their member of congress democrat or republican & tell them that if they did not vote for a plan with a public option you will not vote for them....this will clear out congress & stop the insurance companies from screwing us all.....

    October 14, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. Mike in MN

    My mom has Medicare Advantage and she thinks it is great. Super coverage at a low cost. Obama and the Dems take away Medicare Advantage and they better run for the hills. My mom will be in the next Tea Party march on Washington and Obama does not want my mom in his face. Believe me, that is not something he would want.

    October 14, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. Read the fine print people....the Part D donut hole savings newly replaces the funding cut by Obama resulting in greater cost efficiency.....from an RN

    President Obama had already made an agreement for funding reimbursement of part D with medicare. After this was done, the cut he proposed for Medicare was initiated because the new funding for the "donut hole" will reinvegerate Medicare better than what it was before the cut....after this cut is made. Can you people in the GOP understand this? Sure you can. But you're too busy trying to deceive people because this assertion being made is a flat out lie. Part D of medicare was previously retained by the Insurance-Pharmaceutical Industry and never reimbursed to doctors for patient care. The Insurance company is just mad they no longer can keep that money Republicans previously allowed them to keep...........Get over it GOP !

    October 14, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Jack

    It's time for a real change, let's nationalize the Insurance Industry! We could use the saved trillions of dollars on education and energy infastructure for the health and prosperity of all Americans.

    October 14, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  8. Marc

    So, all of a sudden, they are the Keepers of the TRUTH?
    And we are as dumb as they're expecting to?

    October 14, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  9. RRRUSA

    Look for the Insurance to BILL US BACK for the 100+ million spent on all this slanted advertising!
    Of course Less Profits scare them......look for the next round of their studies to say they will all go out of business if the reform bills are passed. I can't believe some here blasting Obama on this......are you peiople on the SIDE of the insurance industry? Get a clue please!

    October 14, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. Marie Laveaux

    There is a lot of waste and fraud in medicare and that should be eliminated (should have been done a long time ago) because it benefits neither our seniors or the taxpayers. Healthcare providers from doctors, hospitals, durable medical equipment, home health care etc. have taken shameful liberties with Medicare for decades.
    As an example, when my father-in law required a wheelchair, Medicare was billed $300 a month for close to 5 years for it. Why couldn't they have just bought one for him, at about the same price, and be done with it?

    October 14, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. Carter Landrum

    The insurance industry is forwarning us what will happen with the DC-controlled health care, but some of you Obama Koolaid drinkers just won't listen. You'll wish you had.

    October 14, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. Malcolm in St Louis

    Insurance companies do nothing in the way of value-add when it comes to health care.

    We need to remove their massive costs from the health care system.

    When I am sick I want to see a doctor. I do not know an insurance agent who can cure cancer.

    October 14, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. Beyond Absurd

    I think that if the Health Insurance industty's trade group is coming out against this bill, that is a pretty good sign that we are on the right track.
    Take the profit out health insurance and let it be run by NFP's.

    October 14, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. jaywingfuller

    Oh, this is just sad! The insurance companies, who lied so boldly and badly yesterday that the firms doing the accounting for their so-called "Fact Finding' presentation disavowed any association with the study, now are lying in TV ads as they simply try to scare people. These insurance companies are turning out to be just money-grubbing conglomerates that care nothing for the people they serve. Congress - pass a reform bill now! Put in a public option! Put these bastards in their places! We the people are tired, sick and DYING! Get off your sorry, self-absorbed butts and do something right for your country!

    October 14, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    I can hear the conversation in the board room now:

    Exec A: "Hey, this bill is pretty sweet...something like $500B for people to buy insurance through us? CHA-CHING!!!!"

    Exec B: "Yeah, but we can't let them know we're sporting w–d over it...let's do a series of commercials pretending we think this is bad for us, so they'll feel better about it passing and will hopefully stop saying it's going to line our pockets."

    Ad Exec: "...droool...."

    October 14, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Jay

    Easy fix.....MEDICARE FOR ALL PERIOD!!

    October 14, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. Clint

    Has the health insurance trade group revealed how much insurance will increase without reform? They must think that the American people are idiots (which in too many cases is true).

    October 14, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. Rob Johnson

    I can't understand why some Republicans act like it would be a bad thing for the health insurance companies to be run out of business.

    The whole lot of them are parasites of human misery, sucking money out of America's pockets with no regard to our actual health. We are not talking about doctors or nurses here, we are talking about bureaucrats with no other goal than making money. They contribute nothing to our national health and make obscene profits.

    I would welcome the day these useless, greedy middlemen go the way of the dinosaur. If that makes me a socialist, so be it.

    October 14, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Mamixztwo

    these people have no integrity.

    October 14, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. katiec

    Of course they are going on attack. With Public Option their victimizing of the American people will come to a halt.
    They along with other big business have had control and run our country for far too long, making crucial decisions on our behalf.
    They have allowed greed, profits, perks and power to overcome
    what they were responsible for.
    We can no longer allow, accept or tolerate our country to be controlled by big business. And, we certainly do not believe their lies, distortions and fear mongering as their control has almost destroyed our country.

    October 14, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  21. Patience

    Wind fall profits are going by the way of the dinasour. Time to actually take care of the people instead of the Board of Directors. This legislation is fifty years over due

    October 14, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  22. T Mckinley

    Insurance industry goes on the attack?

    The insurance industry has been on the attack all along.

    The insurance industry does not want healthcare reform of any kind, unless it will help them line their greedy pockets with more of our hard earned money.

    How many millions of dollars does a healthcare insurance executive need to make a year to be able to live comfortably?

    October 14, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. andrew

    medicare advantage is pork, it basically gets seniors private insurance plans through Medicare, it is a waste of taxpayer dollars, and a giveaway to the insurance industry. since when do private insurers care about seniors when they're responsible for the deaths of 20,000 people a year by denying them coverage for legitimate claims.

    October 14, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Hoot87

    Tort reform and vigorous industry competition across state lines is really all we need to have genuine Health Care Reform.

    October 14, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  25. Bob

    Insurance is one of many cash cows to wp's. What's amazing to me is the fact , one has to ask for reform, in order to bring attention to the corruption and the greed of a industry. Too bad it's never about where you hurt, but how much are you willing to pay, to keep it from hurting. In a capitolistic society, it's always about the money and not about the service we can provide to each other. When will we ever learn, if provide the service money will come.................

    October 14, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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