Dems, insurers spar over reform provisions

Oct. 19, 2009 at 9:30 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- U.S. insurers and congressional Democrats are arguing over key provisions in healthcare reform bills now being considered, analysts say.

A trade group representing insurers struck an uneasy alliance earlier this year with reformers in which it said companies would stop denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions in exchange for a provision mandating that everyone buy a policy, USA Today reported Monday.

But that bargain is fading, the newspaper reported, as insurers are unhappy with the proposed penalties on those who won't buy coverage. They contend the proposed fines are not severe enough and do not come soon enough to motivate younger and healthier Americans to purchase health plans, thus raising premium prices for everyone else.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says he supports the stiffer fines sought by the insurance industry, telling USA Today, "You've got to have a penalty in there such that people won't say, 'It's cheaper for me to pay the penalty and not get the coverage.'"

Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, said the industry is still continuing to work with Congress, asserting the group remains "committed to bipartisan health reform."

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