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. FED UP

    Health INSURANCE is NOT a health care system!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Health Insurance is Risk Managment like ALL INSURANCE. You do not buy car insurance and expect every repair or door ding to be fixed. If you have several accidents or claims (pre-existing conditions) then your policy maybe cancelled or costs are dramatically higher. Health insurance is the same way!

    These bills are NOT HEALTH CARE REFORM! Tell them to toss em out and start over.

    October 14, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    The job of the the private insurers is to minimize risk and maximize profits. However, if just one major insurer cut their rates due to the threat, whether perceived or real, can you imagine the stampede of customers to their coverage, and the resulting increase in market share?

    The Insurers have been reaping huge profits, and they will continue to do so under a public option or a trigger option: they just won't be making the profits they are accustomed to. Right now, the insurers fit the classic definition of a cartel, since they all agree to stay out of each other's territories and keep rates at an artifically high level to ensure they ( and their shareholders) make out like bandits. I just find it ironic the opponants of Healthcare reform have no problem with a private entity robbing them blind, and are not willing to try for any real substantive change.

    October 14, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. jfs Memhis, Tn

    Glad to see that they have the money to spend. Wish that they would have given lower premium adjustments rather than spending money on NEGATIVE ADS. Obviously the concern for earnings is MUCH more important than providing affordable coverage to all. The insurance corps are just UNDERSCORING the need for a public option. Not sure that is message that the or the GOP wants to circulate.

    October 14, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. Glen Beck is Rush Limbaugh's Evil Spawn

    The Health Insurance Cartel knows it has America by the short-hairs as long as there is no competion for them. The only way there will BE competion for them is via a public option alternative for health insurance. It really could not be more clearly stated than by the Health Insurance Cartel themselves with this bogus study they commissiioned to try to scare Americans away from any sort of reform! They, themselves, have made the strongest case FOR a public option than anyone! It's so obvious! If we continue to allow them to hold us all hostage they will keep raising insurance rates until over 1/2 of the population cannot afford health insurance!. So all of you people who are fighting this, if health insurance reform with a public option does NOT pass, will only have yourselves to blame when you can no longer afford health insurance for yourself or your family. WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE, FOLKS!

    October 14, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. Traj

    Republicans and the likes are still "Stuck on Stupid"

    October 14, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. Rocky

    Almost everyone seems to be sure the report is false and self-serving. Have any of you even read the report.
    Family Guy actually had a good point and a great example. If you notice, the result came without creating a government run phone company.
    Before you complain too much about the insurance profits, remember that most states require insurance companies to have substantial funds available in case there are higher than normal claims. One serious flu season could knock those profits down to nothing.

    October 14, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  7. More corporate lies

    Death panels already exist - it's these guys denying coverage to customers in need. If you're pro-life at all stages of life then support health care reform.

    October 14, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  8. mjm

    So the insurance industry wanted to know what impact the increased taxes from the Democrats brilliant health care reform bill would have on their products, and they hired PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the best firms in the business.

    Turns out, prices go up 111% with the governments plan. This should be a surprise to no one (except LacrosseMom). Democrats hate it when you show them how stupid their ideas are.

    This bill will destroy one industry in favor of the UAW.

    Keep in mind, the only companies that can hire people are the ones that make a profit. Failing companies do not hire...unless you count the federal government.

    October 14, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. Larry

    There is something terribly wrong in this country when BIG MONEY can repeatedly lie straight faced in it's efforts to continue to hold on to it's BIG MONEY, while people all over this country and throughout this world suffer at the hands of these same crooks

    As an Atheist, I truly wish there were things such as GODS, for then the selfishness and greed of the few would be crushed as it should be

    People like George W, Dick Cheney and all the other lying Republicans that strut around using a fictitious Gods as their guides, as they destroy this country, and help their buddies in Big Oil, and Big Insurance get richer, would be the first ones struck down if such a god existed.

    October 14, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  10. Vets4Obama

    This is just MORE proof that we need a single payer system.

    In a nutshell, they are saying that seniors should feel safe and secure because they have government run health care, which is a blatant admittance that the government run health care that the elders enjoy is a much better product then the one they themselves offer.

    October 14, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  11. kd

    The insurance companies continue to lie.

    October 14, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. mike

    the republicans that do not want the public option and want the insurance industry to take care of them I say give to them and when they get screwed do not come crying to anybody but yourself and turn your medicare over to someone who wants its

    October 14, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  13. Jeff from Canada

    Here's the truth about Canada's government run healthcare system. It's practically free of charge (in my province, no premiums and our tax rates are lower than almost everywhere in the US). You can't be denied for a pre-existing condition or cut-off if your treatment costs too much. We live longer, have lower infant mortality, and are statistically healthier that folks in the US. As for rationing, if you NEED a medical treatment you get it right away, period, end of discussion. If you WANT something done that isn't urgent, you may have to wait (typically measured in weeks), or you can travel out of Canada and your provincial government may still pay for the treatment. Any political party in Canada that even whispers that they might change our universal, government funded healthcare system is destroyed on election day.

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

    This health care "reform" bill is a sham. Without the public option the reform is meaningless, add that in and we've taken a step closer to fixing the health care crisis. I believe Senator Baucus will face a tough re-election campaign if the final bill won't have a public option. You may say this is the final bill, but its Washington...Anything could happen.

    October 14, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. Enough

    Too bad Democrats can't sit down and work with the insurance companies for real reform, making health care available and affordable for us to purchase. Nope, instead they will make policies that raise our taxes and our health insurance premiums in the process. PUBLIC OPTION is NOT the answer and the MAJORITY of Americans do NOT want it.

    October 14, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. Librarian

    We need a PUBLIC OPTION. These insurance companies are sharks and they make tons of $$$ out of our health !!!

    October 14, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  17. jayjohn

    If the insurance companies go under , won't that mean more job losses

    October 14, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. marie

    If Obama was truly interested in the health care of the American people, he would first address our agirculture system to insure a healthier food chain. Then he would seriously and very publicly address the "sickly" life styles that too many American's embrass, i.e, smoking, excessive driving, lack of exercise, stress, poor eating habits, etc. He would also stop fooling people into thinking that all unisured americans will have coverage with no stipulations... that's impossible. If it's too good to be true, it usually isn't true. Too many jump on the band wagon simply because they think they can get something free.

    October 14, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. Jackie

    insurance Companies are finally getting called out. They have RAPED the American public for years, thanks to George W. and the rest of his greedy cohorts.

    October 14, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  20. Jeff from Canada

    One last point that is truly outrageous. The GOP says a government funded healthcare system means the government will tell your doctor how to treat you. That is complete garbage. Ask ANY US doctor and they will tell you that they virtually never hear from Medicare about particular treatments, but they have a ton of restrictions put on them by private insurance companies. What would make anyone think the government could possibly oversee the medical treatment of specific individuals if they don't even know what happened to the TARP money? Sure, that means waste, but at least your doctor makes the decisions, and not some administrator at an insurance company whose pay likely depends on denying you treatment and saving the company money. My 3rd graders understand that, why can't most Americans?

    October 14, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. johnnie w

    SO WHAT CNN, they have already LOST

    October 14, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. todd

    The health insurance industry is right. If this passes we all will pay much more for much less. Almost 50% of physicians in the U.S. have already come out and said that if this passes they will quit or retire. that should tell you something. Obama, if you haven't noticed already is more concerned with his legacy than the consequences of what will happen to all of us after he out of office. He has gone on tv almost 200 times in 8 months! David Letterman, Oprah, etc. it is a joke. When he is out of office his whole family will have the most expensive private insurance plan available for the rest of their lives and we will all pay for it through our taxes. We do need reform, but these numbers don't add up, and we will be paying for Obama's mistakes for the rest of our lives.

    October 14, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  23. allison

    Insurance Companies have literally had big-brother protection for the past eight years. George W. and the rest of the Republicans have gainfully taken $$$$ from the insurance lobbyists.

    October 14, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  24. Lyle

    BooHoo for insurance companies.....now, they have to use the SCARE tactic. Dumb idiots.

    October 14, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. Deep Pockets!!

    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.***You are not concerned about Seniors.....Can You Say Profits and Executive Bonuses.....Waiting,I didn't think SO!!!!

    October 14, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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