When the etymology of the word “chutzpah” is recorded, Karen Ignagni, who heads the American Health Insurance Plans industry group, will surely earn an honorable mention. On the eve of the Senate Finance Committee’s vote to reform health care, AHIP released a report claiming that committee’s legislation will raise premiums on the average family by thousands of dollars. As AHIP knows, the Senate Finance Committee’s legislation has many laudable components but what it doesn’t have is a public option.
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Welcome to the debate, Ms. Ignani. Where’ve you been hiding?
AHIP speaks for the interests of major health insurance players, such asAetna , whose CEO earned $24 million last year; Cigna , whose CEO earned $12.2 million last year; and Wellpoint , whose CEO earned $9.8 million last year. Ms. Ignani isn’t wrong when she claims legislation under consideration in the Senate Finance Committee has the potential to allow insurance companies to gauge consumers even more than they do now. Surely consumers can’t expect insurance company CEOs to take a small haircut so that life-saving coverage can be expanded for those who need it most. The horror!
AHIP’s belated offensive against the Senate Finance Committee’s health care plan does raise an important point. Without a public option to hold insurance companies accountable, there is very little to prevent AHIP’s doomsday scenario from coming to fruition.