Paging Dr. Machiavelli, Senate Caucus Room 2: The insurance industry report on the Senate Finance Committee bill continues to make waves this Tuesday. "White House and Senate officials hinted at the possibility of legislative payback for releasing a report Democrats described as deeply flawed and self-serving. At the very least, officials said, it will help Democrats close ranks behind the Finance Committee bill, which had come under fire from the progressives as too moderate."
More: "They also predicted liberal lawmakers will go harder after the insurers, perhaps by proposing a cap on premiums or solidifying support for the government insurance plan.
"They have opened themselves up," said a senior Senate Democratic aide. "It is an incredibly stupid strategic blunder. If you are going to fire a shot like this, you fire a good shot."
The best shot at a public option? "One proposal attracting considerable attention originated with Senator Thomas R. Carper (D-DE) and would allow states to decide whether to create their own insurance plans or join forces to provide coverage in collaboration with neighboring states. Other Democrats want to take the state-based approach a step further, creating a national public plan that states could join. Carper, a moderate Democrat, said he is not sure he is prepared to go that far. "I'm just chewing on that one," he said."
After today, the coverage of the health care debate will look a lot like this: in the weeds negotiations on some big differences between the House and Senate versions.
The AHIP report released yesterday may mark a "turning point" among health care interest groups, as they "position themselves for the final weeks of a lobbying battle that has been brewing all year," The Hill writes.
Late yesterday, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the firm that conducted the study, released a statement acknowledging it did not investigate the entirety of the legislation, only the four provisions AHIP wanted analyzed. "While not retreating from its findings, PricewaterhouseCoopers underscored an overlooked caveat in its original report: 'If other provisions in health care reform are successful in lowering costs over the long term, those improvements would offset some of the impacts we have estimated.'"
The Wall Street Journal: "For months, insurers worked closely with the Finance Committee on details of the bill, attracted to the effort, in part, by the prospect of gaining millions of new customers. The cooperation was in contrast to the early 1990s, when the industry fought the last major effort to overhaul the health system.
Monday's report reflected a change in strategy and put the industry again in conflict with Congress. It came after the industry objected to changes adopted by the committee to the requirement that most Americans carry health coverage. Insurance companies want a strong mandate, but the committee weakened it somewhat by exempting more people and lowering penalties for those who don't comply."
Liberal organization Americans United For Change goes after the health insurance industry in a new TV ad airing this week on DC cable starting today. The ad, called "Inside Baseball," relates the health insurance industry to professional baseball, saying they are the only industries exempt from anti-trust laws, but "when baseball players fix the game, they get in trouble. When health insurance executives fix the game, they get… rich."