October 12, 2009

Look out, the health care reform fight just got nasty ;)

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rita_hibbardweb10Just  when it looks like health care reform could be approaching some kind of political and public consensus, the health care insurance industry bares its knuckles. After months of playing, well, almost nice, here it comes – a report warning that the typical family premium for health care could raise by $4,000 over the next decade under current law, the Los Angeles Times reports.

This comes only a day after President Obama went on the radio talking about “unprecedented consensus” – among parties and special interests, and the American people. But that was before Sunday, it seems. At issue is the whether the health care reform proposal will draw enough healthy people into the insurance pool to offset the costs of the less healthy folks who would flood the program seeking care.

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,” Karen Ignagni, chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans, wrote to board members Sunday. “Between 2010 and 2019 the cumulative increases in the cost of a typical family policy under this reform proposal will be approximately $20,700 more than it would be under the current system.”

Democrats are calling the report a hatchet job, a play out of the same playbook that’s been used time and time again. As InvestigateWest reported on a few weeks ago, this scenario is what played out in California two years ago, when all the players collaborated – for a while – behind Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s attempts to reform the state’s health care system. Until it got a little too real, that is, and then the special interests’ long knives came out, and the plan fell apart.

“Now that health care reform grows ever closer, these health insurers are breaking out the same, tired playbook of deception to prevent millions of Americans from getting the affordable, accessible care they need,” said finance committee spokesman Scott Mulhauser. “It’s a health-insurance company hatchet job, plain and simple.”

But Americans already pay $13,375 for employer-sponsored health care coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as recently reported by InvestigateWest. So isn’t that already the definition of a crisis? Maybe that’s early crisis, or mid-crisis. But the road is long and its course needs to change.

— Rita Hibbard

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