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Insurers and Liberals Take Their Fracas to the Airwaves

By Ben Pershing
The fight between insurance companies and proponents of Democrats' health-care reform plans is heating up on the airwaves, as both sides are mounting new television campaigns.

The industry trade group America's Health Insurance Plans sparked controversy this week with its report claiming that a Senate committee bill would cause premiums to skyrocket. A day later, a key liberal group hit back:

This ad from Americans United for Change seeks to link two subjects currently in the news -- the health-care debate and the baseball playoffs -- by noting that health-insurance companies and Major League Baseball teams are both exempt from federal antitrust laws. The ad says that insurance companies are "scared of competition," a reference to the industry's opposition to the creation of a government-sponsored insurance program, or "public option." (On a related note, the Senate Judiciary Committee has a hearing scheduled Wednesday on "Prohibiting Price Fixing and Other Anticompetitive Conduct in the Health Insurance Industry.") The ad is running this week on Washington-area cable TV stations, and the overall buy is relatively small -- "low five figures," according to an Americans United spokesman.

AHIP, meanwhile, is out with a new ad of its own:

The insurers' group's ad says, "Congress is proposing over $100 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says many seniors will see cuts in benefits." Aimed at seniors, the AHIP ad focuses on the fate of the Medicare Advantage program, which pays private insurance companies to provide their own form of Medicare.

Democrats have long criticized the program, which they say gives its enrollees much more elaborate health coverage that is subsidized by regular Medicare patients. Democrats propose to cut funding for the program to boost the overall solvency of Medicare. Republicans and insurance companies counter that millions of Americans who rely on Medicare Advantage and are happy with it should not be made to suffer for the larger cause of reform. The overall effectiveness of Medicare Advantage remains the subject of debate between the two sides.

The Huffington Post reports that AHIP is spending more than $1 million to run the ad in several key states. AHIP did not respond to a request to confirm those details.

By Ben Pershing  |  October 13, 2009; 3:42 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Since the fire is beginning to go out on our economy, lets print a bunch more money so we can burn it... We can call it the Green Jobs Initiative or the Tax and Trade plans... Or even... Wait for it... Wait for it.... A Healthcare Overhaul!!!!


Is anyone on the Hill dumb enough to think they will get away with their jobs if they allow this continued wasteful spending to pass in any form without full debate, and actually reading the stupid thing for once?!?

Posted by: ProveMeWrong | October 13, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

We need more town hall meetings with these idiots in DC. They apparently did not get the message last time around. No to the public option, no more bail-outs, no more debt, no more too big to fail, no more government take overs. Stop spending and start cutting. 2010 will see many of these Spendocrats leaving office. The closer this bill gets to those elections the less chance it has of passing. That is why the Spendocrats are desperate to ram it down the throat of the Country before they will not have the votes.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | October 13, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Of course, it would never occur to anyone carping about Obama being a socialist, to note that Medicare Advantage is just another tax-payer funded boondoggle. Far be it from us to deprive the generous (to legislators and ex-legislators) insurance companies of another cash cow. Not only that, but the people lobbying for its preservation are the very people who will starve funding Medicare any chance they get. Good thing their constituents are no deeper than parking lot puddles.

Posted by: whereareweandwhatarewedoinginthishandbasket | October 13, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Any polls showing how much people trust health insurance companies. Their phony study is so easy to shoot down. They must be really scared or else they think the public is prety stupid, or both. It is sad to see Pricewaterhousecoopers sell out. How much did they get paid? This study sort of reminds me of the auditing work that Anderson did for Enron.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | October 13, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I have just heard the most B-llsh-t made to look old video on the health care bill,when is our fifth amendment under more attack then WHEN BUSH AND HIS CRONIES PUT THE PATRIOCT ACT TOGETHER?What is left of our right against self incrimination?
Constitutional law is this so called expert's knowledge where was he 8 years ago?
Come lets us sit as men and talk,(comment is not gendered,meant only as a word)Isn't wonderful what dna can do,there is no fifth amendment!Lets try our first amendment?I dare you to speak your mind and think that you're not on some list by the very people that are support to protect it.Need I say more?The only reason that I will speak my mind is I'm old and also a veteran (so her,he was an officer in the military)who survived their inept orders that I knew to look for Sergent to give the go ahead on.
If I sound bitter so be it.I put my life on the line for a people I love not a government that lies to its people and tries to make you totally unaware of their behavior.

Posted by: popeyegrandpa | October 13, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

My wife and I are nearing seventy years of age. We have been in a Medicare Advantage program for several years, since our private insurance provider became our secondary provider, and Medicare became our primary. With so much debate, on Capitol Hill, revolving around Medicare and Medicare Advantage programs, it is becoming 'nervous time' for us. Our plan is part of a negotiated retirement policy. In this respect, we are very fortunate, as little of the costs of the medical services provided, comes out of pocket, and the convenience, co-operation, assistance when needed, and coverage is second to none. We have some serious medical challenges to deal with, and are, inextricably, hitched to the Med. Adv. star. We are aware that the cost of a Med. Adv. plan is somewhat higher, but considering the positives, not ridicously so. We are very concerned that, if our Med. Adv. plan is discontinued, or radically altered, our health care coverage would become compromised. Please... if we are going to make changes in our health care system...let's not leave seniors afraid for their well being. We are not as resilient as we once were, and, for the most part, do not have the vitality, or the financial where-with-all, to make the readjustments, if they should come to pass.

Posted by: roanns | October 14, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I am writing concerning the ads the AHIP is funding for one million dollars. Why would they do that or is it more important to get their point across instead of helping the people the serve instead? Why not use that amount of money more constructively instead of wasting it on ads? As to the republicans, they had the chance to come up with a plan or another idea for eight years and they did nothing, at least not for the people that need it the most. They helped the companies instead of the people who elected them , the people who counted on them to look out for them. When are they going to start acting like they care for these people, for us, instead of the people who can line their pockets with more money. Or are we going to have to vote them out of office before they realize who they are working for? This goes for both the Rebuplicans and democrats.

Posted by: jacque2 | October 14, 2009 11:49 PM | Report abuse

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