As the deadline nears for a Tuesday vote on health care reform – the insurance industry is releasing its latest salvo to salvage the profitable industry.
Releasing a new report, it warns the typical family premium could rise by $4,000 over the next decade and that is higher and faster than the current system. Insurance lobbyists plan to circulate the report on Capitol Hill.
Issued by America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, and prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the report is a direct blow to efforts by the Obama administration to work cooperatively with the industry likely to be most impacted by reforms.
The insurance trade group’s chief executive says “The report makes clear that several major provisions in the current legislative proposal will cause healthcare costs to increase far faster and higher than they would under the current system,” says Karen Ignagni.
"Those guys specialize in tax shelters," said Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, reports the Los Angeles Times. "Clearly this is not their area of expertise."
The White House calls it a self-serving analysis from the insurance industry. Reid Cherlin says the report ignores a plan to reduce costs for those already with insurance and provide affordable options to those who are priced out of the market, reports USA Today.
The critique comes one day before Tuesday’s key Senate Committee vote on a reform plan by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) who has expressed confidence he has the votes to pass his 10-year $829-billion legislation to remake the nation’s health care.
The assault comes as President Obama praised the “unprecedented census” that had come together behind the spirited debate about health insurance reform, during his weekly radio and video address this weekend.
At the time of the “Baucus Plan” was released in mid-September, a representative from the insurance lobby, America’s Health Insurance Plans complained to Bloomberg that more than one third of the bill will hit insurers.
A key question is whether enough young and healthy people will be drawn into the insurance pool, to reduce costs across the board. The Miami Herald reports on"The Invincibles" - healthy people who feel they can opt out of health insurance. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 19 million people ages 18 to 34 do not have health insurance.
Insurance industry analysts fear that by reducing penalties on those who fail to buy health insurance, less-healthy patients will join the ranks, driving up costs.
During the Sunday talk shows, finance committee spokesman, Scott Mulhauser, called the report a health insurance industry "a hatchet job."
“Now that healthcare reform grows even closer, these health insurers are breaking out of the same, tired playbook of deception to prevent millions of Americans from getting the affordable, accessible care they need,” reports the LA Times.
While the Senate Finance Committee will vote on its proposed overhaul Tuesday, the full Senate and House must vote on a final plan and reconcile differences before any plan can be presented to President Obama for a a final signature. #