by NBC's Ali Weinberg
Karen Ignagni, the president of insurance lobby America's Health Insurance Plans, said that an AHIP-sponsored study released today warning of increased premiums under current health reform proposals did not represent a rift with the White House after almost a year of working to find compromises on health care legislation.
Relations with the Obama administration are "very consistent with the beginning of the year--well, now more than a year ago," Ignagni said in a conference call with reporters.
Ignagni also defended PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the firm who conducted the study and whose methodology has already been questioned by the White House and leading health care reporters who say it makes far-flung assumptions about changes in the health care system in response to new policies.
"PWC is a world class firm," Ignagni said. "They have a stellar reputation and they have proceeded to do this analysis in a thorough and comprehensive way."
One objection to the study is that it does not recognize insurance companies' expected driving down health insurance costs to avoid a proposed tax on expensive plans.
White House assistant press secretary Reid Cherlin said the study "conveniently ignores critical policies that will lower costs for those who have insurance, expand coverage and provide affordable health insurance options to millions of Americans who are priced out of today's health insurance market or are locked out by unfair insurance company practices."
Ignagni reiterated the insurance industry's main concern about health care reform: getting all players in the medical world to find ways to bend the cost curve. She stressed the need to "encourage all the other stakeholders to participate in a broader effort so that they can too lend a hand and get costs under control in a much more effective way than we would," adding, "We don't see comprehensive cost control in any legislation."