Insurers Seek To Fend Off Attacks In Health Bill Debate
The nation's trade association for health insurers sought
Tuesday to deflect criticism from Democratic lawmakers by arguing
that it is committed to health overhaul legislation.
Democrats have come out strongly against insurers in recent
days, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., saying the
insurance industry is employing a "carpet bombing" or "shock and
awe" campaign against a public option as part of sweeping
Karen Ignagni, president of the America's Health Insurance Plans
trade group, told reporters that "a campaign has been launched to
demonize health plans."
"The same old Washington politics of 'find an enemy and go to
war' is a major step backward, not a step forward," Ignagni said.
"This is the playbook of consultants, not consensus."
AHIP represents insurers such as Aetna Inc. (AET), Humana Inc.
(HUM), Cigna Corp. (CI) and UnitedHealth Group (UNH).
Ignagni, who said that August would prove a crucial month in the
health overhaul debate, said her group would be seeking "to correct
the record, and provide assertions on where we are and where we're
She did not, however, suggest that the group would run
advertisements opposing health overhaul legislation. AHIP has
stated that it favors such legislation, but strongly opposes the
inclusion of a government-run health insurance plan as part of
When asked about the creation of health insurance co-operatives
-- believed to be a key element of legislation drafted by the
Senate Finance committee -- Ignagni said the rules by which such
plans competed would be most important.
"Structure doesn't matter," Ignagni said. "What matters is how
the rules work."
Liberal interest groups have ramped up attacks on insurers in
recent days. Americans United for Change, a group that supports the
Obama administration's push for passage of a health bill, released
an ad Monday criticizing Cigna Chief Executive H. Edward Hanway for
his 2008 compensation of $12.2 million.
-By Patrick Yoest, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-3554;