The insurance companies have been playing a game with the American people for over a year now.
It started with the "listening tour" AHIP - the insurance industry's front group and lobbying arm - put on last fall leading up to the election. As we documented thoroughly, while AHIP said it was out listening to the public on health reform, it actually spent months playing hide and seek with real people, and pressure from us forced them to cancel and curtail their plans.
Then, from the results of this sham listening tour, the insurance companies put out their "reform" plan, which largely mirrored defeated Republican candidate John McCain's plan. The insurance industry's plan was roundly defeated in the November election, which should tell you how closely AHIP "listened" to the American public.
Into 2009, the insurance industry continued their attempts to fool the American people. They said over and over that they were for health care reform. Karen Ignagni, AHIP's top lobbyist, said so to the President. In every press conference and every TV appearance, this was the message that they tried to put out.
Meanwhile, the industry was spending millions per day lobbying against reform, particularly the public health insurance option. All of this is part of the strategy Think Progress diagrammed months ago, involving a public charm offensive and multiple anti-reform front groups.
Lately, as real health care reform begins to look more likely to pass, the insurance companies have taken to saying they support "bipartisan" reform, whatever that means.
But today, the veil has finally come off this charade. Another one of the insurance industry's top lobbyists, Steve Champlin (who also works for AHIP), told Republicans Members of Congress not to vote for health reform under any circumstances:
"There is absolutely no interest, no reason Republicans should ever vote for this thing. They have gone from a party that got killed 11 months ago to a party that is rising today. And they are rising up on the turmoil of health care," said Champlin. "So when they vote for a health care reform bill, whatever it is, they are giving comfort to the enemy who is down."
"Long before the Republicans discovered that the House bill was a strategy to kill seniors and all that kind of stuff the plan was already unpopular," he added, underscoring why Republicans shouldn't attach themselves to the legislation.
The remarks came during the opening session of AHIP's annual State Issues Conference in which both Champlin and his co-panelist seemed to concede that reform would pass and will include a variation of a public option for insurance coverage.
The industry that treats rape as a pre-existing condition is finally coming clean. Their message: Republicans should kill health care reform, otherwise they will be giving comfort to the "enemy."
I'm glad the insurance companies are finally coming clean that they're against health reform and that they've always been against health reform. It's slightly more honest of them. I'm also glad that the industry is in town for their conference.
Today, Health Care for America Now, along with hundreds of supporters and all of our partners in DC, will be at the AHIP State Issues Conference at the Capitol Hilton at 3:00 pm. We're bringing seven families who's lives have been torn apart by the insurance industry to confront Karen Ignagni. If you're in the area, come join us. And if not, sign the petition to stand with us.
The insurance industry will always be against health reform, because it will cut into their profits and make America healthier. And now they're admitting it.