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. Jaxson

    Instill fear......it's our last option. Hope it works!!

    October 14, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. Barbara Independent in NY

    The Insurance companies have been on the attack for years. They are corrupt to the core. The Insurance companies are the real "death panels". I agree with Keith Olberman–Insurance companies are really Insurance cartels. Unfortunately for the American people, our politicians are owned by the Insurance cartels.

    October 14, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  3. annie s

    Medicare Advantage plans are taking and wasting taxpayer dollars to the tune of 14 billion dollars per year, so of course the insurers want to scare seniors into thinking they will lose something. Got to keep those profits up!

    October 14, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  4. Vic of New York

    Folks I agree that the Bill passed yesterday in committee is not good...

    . . . ONLY BECAUSE IT DOESN'T GO FAR ENOUGH !!!

    We need a public healthcare option so that these greedy executives can't stuff their pockets with $25 Million dollar pay packages on the backs and miseries of American Citizens.

    Insurance executives are a low in morals as it gets. Take a look at Hank Greenberg and his AIG company. These guys ate their own – with Greenberg's blessing.

    Pick up some paper or log onto your computer and send a letter to the "contact us" page of your local Insurance Company. Tell them to stop lying to the American People. Then sent your Congressman a letter and tell him his job depends on passing the pubic healthcare option!

    October 14, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. Roger in CA

    Morally repugnant cretins!!!

    October 14, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  6. ArielB

    I'm confused...what IS it so wrong with everyone having access to healthcare?

    I think the never-ending Boomer Generation has forgotten that WE are paying for them. They paid for the prior generation and it was a whole lot cheaper then. You don't hear us complaining about paying for you & yours. But then maybe we should start becoming selfish like you, after all our kids will still be on the hook for your debts.

    October 14, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  7. Caesar the Great

    Hasnt our liberal friends in the government been "on the attack" this whole time stating how important it is to hurry up and pass this? And for all you people who quote the 45,000 people die every year because they dont have insurance, think about that for a second. If you present at an ER in this country with life threatening issues the docs have to treat you. There may be 45,000 that die without insurance, but the insurance industry doesnt kill people.

    October 14, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  8. Jack Fl

    There is something rotten with an industry that will not cover preventive care for most cronic illnesses. They would rather us to get sick and then dictate to Dr and patient care practices. Now they want to believe their opinion on healthcare reform! I do believe premiums will go up, what's new?

    October 14, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. Barbara

    Hang on guys.... Public option is coming!

    October 14, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  10. ran

    Just more fear/hate/obstructionism if not out in out lies.

    The 1st amendment does not give anyone the right to lie or to even mislead any more then it gives someone the right to yell "fire" in a crowed place.

    There should be truth in political speech like in advertisements. The media should insist on truth and fact check before showing or reporting on this stuff.

    October 14, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  11. Teena in Denver

    If the insurance companies actually used their profit margins to assist the needy rather than lining their CEO's pockets, then I would listen to what they are saying. Instead of paying HUGE sums for TV time, why don't they help the poor and/or homeless? Then they might have some credibility when saying they are worried about the costs' to the sick or elderly!

    October 14, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  12. Mike from KC

    Insurance companies don't want health care reform. It will cut into their profits.

    October 14, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. MS

    The only group less trustworthy than insurance compaies is the government . We're all screwed if we depend on either one. To really fix it, the people need more control over thier own healthcare.

    October 14, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. Susan

    Do I trust the insurance companies or believe what they say? Absolutely not! They are all about the "big bucks" and not about providing health care reimbursement. Congress can point the finger and say, "Do you want the government to control your health care?" Well, a group of people, who no one knows is doing just that, right now. And, that "unknown" group of people is made up of insurance executives. How pathetic and how sad for us, their innocent victims.

    October 14, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. phoenix86

    The purpose of the Obama / Baucus bill is to CUT Medicare.

    That is the only result of this bill.

    Thanks dems.

    October 14, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. Peter s

    Pathetic insurance industry! full of liars with big ego!! driven by ME,ME,ME first!! others? who cares?

    October 14, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  17. Kathy

    Anyone who thinks the Insurance Industry cares anything about those they insure is delusional.

    October 14, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  18. Annette

    The insurance companies are greedy. More covered, more competition, more options! That's the only way to have affordable coverage for Americans. The current situation with health insurers is archaic and crushing the government ( us) americans (us) it's time we fight them back!

    October 14, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  19. Matt

    Nobody is forcing anyone to give money to the insurance companies (Yet). If you don't think health insurance is worth the price, don't buy it.

    October 14, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  20. JEAN - ATL

    Americans keep supporting these slimy pharmaceutical and insurance companies at your own peril! They gouge us now and in the past , and will continue to gouge us even more in the future, if we don't stop them now with a public option in the healthcare reform bill in congress. Let's not allow our greedy representatives to do this to us this time with all of the lies and distortions that we have heard for some time now. Go out and get the facts. We are looking at more and more of our salaries going to these companies, and less and less of our citizens being able to get the care that they require. These people need competition in order to lower costs, and there is no way around it. It is time now for true Americans to stand up and be counted for the good of all.

    October 14, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    What the insurance company is telling you is that if this is passed, they will punish you by raising your premiums.

    October 14, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  22. Mark

    They do have some valid points although im not all out pro insurance company...

    October 14, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  23. Think before you speak

    Listening to a lot of the complainers here, it seems that a bunch of jack-asses signing some sort of paper in Washington is going to grant them eternal life. "Health care" or not, you're still gonna die.

    So, maybe you get a year added to your life, chances are you'll be drooling, babbling, and wetting your pants for that year anyway.

    October 14, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  24. BestProfitCompany = WAR

    I just can't believe we have to fight with big companies to get what we want. This feels so unreal. Is this a Facism country (after the Bush era, YES!) or what?

    October 14, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  25. Cindy

    And so begins the Insurance Company surge...

    Hold your ground Congress... don't give in to the attacks. The American people are counting on you to not cave...

    Please get us the Public Option so we can keep them honest. So we really do have a choice, so the Insurance Companies really do need to keep rates competitive.

    October 14, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
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