Insurance Industry Opens Fire on Reform
By Ben Pershing
President Obama's efforts to bring various stakeholders on board the health-care reform train -- particularly hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry -- have gotten quite a bit of attention. But health insurance companies have thus far occupied an odd middle ground, not endorsing Democrats' various reform plans but not bringing their full weight to bear in opposition, either.
That appears to be changing, as the industry is set to release a report arguing that the proposals would cause insurance premiums to skyrocket. "The critique, coming one day before a critical Senate committee vote on the legislation, sparked a sharp response from the Obama administration," the Washington Post writes. "It also signaled an end to the fragile detente between two central players in this year's health-care reform drama." The New York Times says, "The study provides ammunition to Republicans attacking the legislation and might intensify the concerns of some Democrats who worry that the bill does not provide enough help to low- and middle-income people to enable them to buy insurance." Jonathan Cohn warns that the report -- produced by PriceWaterhouseCoopers for America's Health Insurance Plans -- "comes with some pretty questionable assumptions," particularly in its treatment of subsidies for individual buyers and the excise tax on "Cadillac" plans.
The Senate Finance Committee will vote on its reform measure Tuesday. What happens next? Bloomberg writes, "The future of U.S. health-care legislation now depends on warring Democrats, number-crunching analysts and, possibly, one senator from Maine." Is that all? The Hill reports that the prospects for health-care co-ops making it into the Senate's combined plan are fading because the idea doesn't have a big constituency in the chamber beyond Kent Conrad. In the strange bedfellows department, the White House is heeding the wishes of Bob Dole, Jake Tapper reports, asking the DNC to pull a TV ad that (misleadingly) touted the Republican's support for health-care reform. Kaiser Health News writes on a broader problem with all of the major reform plans -- they don't do anything to fix the shortage of primary care doctors.
Posted at 8:31 AM ET on Oct 12, 2009
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