A new report today confirms one of Washington's worst-kept secrets – that big insurance companies are fighting tooth and nail to kill health reform that will wrest power from their hands and give it to American families.
According to the National Journal, the nation's largest insurers funneled between $10 million and $20 million dollars through the Chamber of Commerce to fund television ads perpetuating their favorite scary myths about health insurance reform.
The article also exposes that the effort was well underway – and carefully planned to avoid detection – even as the insurance companies were publicly claiming to support reform:
In late October, [insurance lobby President Karen] Ignagni wrote in a letter to the Washington Post defending a health insurer-funded study critical of congressional cost estimates, "Let me be clear and direct, health plans continue to strongly support reform." However, by that time money was already flowing through AHIP to the chamber to fund its negative ads.
The fund raising started last September and continued through December using AHIP as a conduit to avoid a repeat of the political flack that hit the insurance industry after it famously ran its multi-million dollar "Harry and Louise" ads to help kill health care reforms during the Clinton administration.
"AHIP wanted to do this through a third party because of what happened with the Harry and Louise ads," said a lobbying source. "The goal was to get a message out there to make sure the public understood the serious shortcomings of the legislative proposals."
It’s no surprise that the insurance companies who profit from the broken status quo would oppose fixing the system. After all, reform will end insurance industry practices like denying coverage based on preexisting conditions, capping total benefits, and dropping coverage when you get sick and need it most. But this article should serve as an important reminder of the powerful forces standing in the way of change and of whose bidding opponents of reform are doing.
Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director