This morning, we see more word from opponents of health reform that they are amping up their efforts to kill the bill before it even comes to a vote. The insurance industry lobby, which is holding its annual conference at the Ritz-Carlton today, announced that it is going to spend more than a million dollars on television ads in the coming days to try to protect the status quo; this is on top of the millions of dollars they have poured into a supposedly-grassroots effort to block reform. And the Chamber of Commerce, which we already know has also run anti-reform ads funded by the insurance industry, is holding a conference call today with executives from a handful of industries to lay out to discuss their plans to try to block reform.
Over the coming days, you’ll hear a lot of noise from opponents of reform who are desperately trying to protect a system that earns billions in profits while rates climb so high that many Americans can’t afford coverage. Consider that the average premium for employer-sponsored family coverage per month in 2009 is $1,115 – incidentally, that’s also just about the cost for non-members to attend the insurance industry’s conference, at $1,125. If nothing is done to reform our broken health care system, a recent survey found that over the next ten years, out-of-pocket expenses for Americans with health insurance could increase 35 percent in every state in the country.
That’s why it is important for the American people to hear what the insurance industry and their allies won’t be saying: that reform will actually bring down costs for American small businesses and workers.
As a result of health insurance reform, millions of small businesses nationwide could qualify for a tax credit to make coverage for their employees even more affordable. Reform will prevent insurance discrimination based on health status, meaning that small businesses will no longer be unfairly subjected to arbitrary premium hikes if a worker falls ill. Reform will create a health insurance exchange that pools small businesses and their employees with millions of other Americans to increase purchasing power and competition in the insurance market – a luxury that is afforded only to large firms under the status quo. And for the millions of young adults who work at small businesses, health insurance reform will also allow them to stay on their parents’ employer-based insurance until the age of 26, providing an essential option for coverage.
Health reform will also put Americans in control of their health care coverage. It will end discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions. It will make insurance more affordable by providing the largest middle class tax cut for health care, thereby helping over 31 million more Americans afford health care. It will hold insurance companies accountable by laying out common-sense rules of the road to keep premiums down and prevent insurance industry abuses and denial of care.
And it puts our budget and economy on a more stable path by reducing the deficit by $100 billion over the next ten years by cutting government overspending and reining in waste, fraud and abuse.
So when you see those insurance-industry funded ads or hear the same old rhetoric from insurance industry allies, remember that they’re fighting to protect their bottom line – and keep the facts in mind. The reality is that health insurance reform will put Americans in control of their own health care and bring down costs for American workers and small businesses.
Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director