Later today, the insurance industry releases their latest in a string of flawed analyses designed to confuse the debate around health reform. After the now-infamous AHIP report, these studies have become more than a little predictable. Today, to make it more interesting, we will beat the insurers to the punch and give you our response before the insurers release the report. (We saw an early copy.)
While the new study contains many of the same arguments that were de-bunked in previous sham reports, this one contains a new twist: it attacks the independent Congressional Budget Office and the conclusions of health experts across the political spectrum.
The CBO recently found that health insurance reform legislation will lower premiums for American families by encouraging lower administrative costs, increased competition, and better pooling for risk. But the new industry-funded report explicitly disregards these conclusions because, simply put, they’re not what the insurance companies want to hear.
In addition to ignoring Congress's independent budget experts, the new report reaches its conclusions by cherry-picking which policies to analyze – a tactic we've seen the industry use repeatedly. Most egregiously, its alarmist headline conclusions leave out the impact that new tax credits will have on the cost of health insurance for families. That makes no sense. In reality, the report itself acknowledges that: “[s]ubsidies will entirely or partially offset these premium increases for some individuals.” In fact, the tax credits will lower premiums for individuals purchasing insurance on the exchange by up to 60 percent.
The report also ignores the legislation's provisions that protect those who don’t wish to change the coverage they have. As the CBO explained, "if they wanted to, current policyholders in the nongroup market would be allowed to keep their policy with no changes, and the premiums for those policies would probably not differ substantially from current-law levels."
Finally, the report doesn't acknowledge all of the bill's measures to control costs and improve coverage. For instance, it does not fully capture the effects of the excise tax on high-cost plans, which will slow the growth in health costs over the long-term. A group of prominent economists – including two Nobel laureates and previous members of both Democratic and Republican administrations – recently concluded that this provision is: "the most promising approach to reducing private-sector health care costs while also giving a much needed raise to the tens of millions of Americans who receive insurance through their employers."
We’re closer than ever before to passing meaningful health insurance reform. And you can bet as we continue to make progress, the insurance industry will continue to try and distract and misinform because they know their very profitable status quo is in grave danger.
Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director