October 12, 2009

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So in a bit of attempted last-minute blackmail, AHIP pulls a suspicious-looking rabbit from their hat. They're worried about families' costs? All the more reason to approve a strong public option!

After months of collaboration on President Obama's attempt to overhaul the nation's health-care system, the insurance industry plans to strike out against the effort on Monday with a report warning that the typical family premium in 2019 could cost $4,000 more than projected.

The critique, coming one day before a critical Senate committee vote on the legislation, sparked a sharp response from the Obama administration. It also signaled an end to the fragile detente between two central players in this year's health-care reform drama.

Industry officials said they intend to circulate the report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers on Capitol Hill and promote it in new advertisements. That could complicate Democratic hopes for action on the legislation this week.

Administration officials, who spent much of the spring and summer wooing the insurers, questioned the timing and authorship of the report, which was paid for by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), an industry trade group.

"Those guys specialize in tax shelters," said Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform. "Clearly this is not their area of expertise."

Yes, not only is it not their area of expertise, the brand carries with them a history of conflicts of interest and even fraud. As recently as 2007, PwC paid $225 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by shareholders of Tyco International Ltd. over a multibillion-dollar accounting fraud.

It seems to me that AHIP is very, very unhappy about the relatively minor changes in the Baucus bill that give the insurance industry slightly less of a stranglehold on the process via the insurance mandate. I mean, how dare we include a hardship exemption?

Now let's watch Democrats spend all day defending the crappy Baucus bill as if it were the tablets Moses brought down from the mountaintop.

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