Monday, October 12, 2009

Insurer Industry takes aim at Senate Finance Committee healthcare reform bill

AHIP - the insurance industry, has funded a new study attacking the Senate Finance Committee health reform bill, claiming it will hike family premiums.

  • The White House to then issued new talking points attacking the study as a “self serving” effort to defend its “profits."
  • While the study seems to help reform foes, it actually makes a good case for Single-Payer or a Medicare like Public Option and should make it easier for Dems to cast opposition to reform as orchestrated by the insurance companies.
  • Even some GOP aides are worried about this.
  • Ezra Klein shreds the report on the facts, as does Jonathan Cohn who got MIT economist Jonathan Gruber to review AHIP's PriceWaterhouseCoopers report and says that the AHIP Claim on Benefits Tax is "Implausible". reports:
The health insurance industry has been working until recently to help draft legislation, while publicly endorsing President Barack Obama's goal of affordable coverage for all Americans. The alliance has grown strained as legislation advances toward votes in Congress.

Late Sunday, the industry trade group America's Health Insurance Plans sent its member companies a new accounting firm study that projects the legislation would add $1,700 a year to the cost of family coverage in 2013, when most of the major provisions in the bill would be in effect.
I think they make an excellent case for Single-Payer... Medicare For All:

Study: Premium increase
Premiums for a single person would go up by $600 more than would be the case without the legislation, the PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis concluded in the study commissioned by the insurance group.

"Several major provisions in the current legislative proposal will cause health care costs to increase far faster and higher than they would under the current system," Karen Ignagni, the top industry lobbyist in Washington, wrote in a memo to insurance company CEOs.

The study projected that in 2019, family premiums could be $4,000 higher and individual premiums could be $1,500 higher.
But the PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis attempted to get at a different issue — costs for privately insured individuals.

It concluded that a combination of factors in the bill — and decisions by lawmakers as they amended it — would raise costs.

The chief reason, said the report, is a decision by lawmakers to weaken proposed penalties for failing to get health insurance. The bill would require insurers to take all applicants, doing away with denials for pre-existing health problems. In return, all Americans would be required to carry coverage, either through an employer or a government program, or by buying it themselves.
Other factors leading to higher costs include a new tax on high-cost health insurance plans, cuts in Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors, and a series of new taxes on insurers and other health care industries, the report said.
While I do believe the Insurance Industry through AHIP is being disingenuous with this report, it does still demonstrate how current plans under review are far more complicated and expensive than they need to be. We have a historic opportunity for members of Congress to go on the record in support of single-payer legislation and we should push for those votes. A significant of YES votes helps establish a benchmark so with healthcare reform returns for debate again - as it will given the plans offered - we won't have single payer taken off the table before then negotiations begin.

Note that the text in the above forms will need a bit of revising - which you are free to do and should do. I would also urge you to ask them to request that the Congressional Budget Office score HR-676. Let Congress and the public see where the real efficiencies are.

More Info on upcoming Single Payer votes here.

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