Karen Ignagni, chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans, published an op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday defending the much-maligned, industry-sponsored report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers arguing that certain provisions of the Baucus healthcare reform bill would sharply increase health insurance premiums.
You can judge for yourself, but the piece sounds a lot like damage control to me (and others as well). Consider the chain of events: 1. The industry sponsors a misleading report; 2. The reaction is a swift, round denunciation of the report’s methodology and AHIP’s motives (including sharp words from President Obama: “It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s bogus”); 3. PWC issues a statement basically admitting the estimates could be wrong all things considered, as Politco reports; 4. Ignagni takes her defensive stance.
The whole mess has to be pretty embarrassing for Ignagni and AHIP, an organization that has a history of masterfully playing the game in Washington. But I actually believe Ignagni when she says that the industry still supports reform. As I noted in a prior post, this is mostly about the weak coverage mandate in the Baucus bill, and on that score AHIP has a point. Btw, Matthew Holt over at The Health Care Blog has a funny post arguing that insurers are the “poor suckers” in the Baucus bill. The industry signed on for guaranteed issue and community rating but didn’t get a strong mandate to avoid adverse selection. What would save them? Holt argues, ironically, a public option to off-load high-risk members. Curiouser and curiouser.