Monday, October 12, 2009

Health insurance industry lobby group rides to the rescue

Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, chair of the U.S. Senate's Finance Committee, is the "author" of one of the health care reform proposals making their way through Congress. Because his proposal is by far the most industry friendly (OK, it's an industry wish list, including not having any kind of effective public option), he has come under withering criticism from from progressives and moderates across the country for his failure to place the interests of his constituents and other average Americans before those of some of his largest campaign contributors.

Today, the health insurance lobbying group America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) rode to Baucus' aid with the release of a report that sharply criticizes his plan for not adequately protecting the bottom lines of insurers.

From USA Today -
The health insurance industry is warning that a comprehensive Senate bill would increase the cost of a typical policy by hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars a year after lawmakers eased up on the requirement that all Americans get coverage.

The stinging attack came on the eve of a pivotal Senate vote and was a clear message to President Obama and congressional Democratic leaders who have been making headway on overhauling the nation's health care system. The industry fears that a weakening of the penalties for failing to get insurance would let Americans postpone getting coverage until they get sick.
How is today's release "aid" for Baucus?

It's simple political cover, an attempt to make it look like Baucus isn't in the pocket of the health insurance industry.

And that is the "best-case" scenario. This could also be a shameless ploy to ward off some of the reform proposals with stronger benefits to the public, a "shot across the bow" of reformers, warning them about what to expect if any of their ideas look like they will gain any legislative momentum.

There are those in D.C. who haven't sold their souls to the lobbyists and can't be kept toeing the industry's "party line" via the usual campaign contributions.

Those folks will spend weeks, if not months, digging through the mountains of the best BS that industry payola can buy.

The industry "report" is here, courtesy of

The White House's response, courtesy, is here.

The Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the Baucus bill is here.


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