Insurers could win in healthcare debate

Oct. 26, 2009 at 11:03 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Insurers could win big in U.S. healthcare reform, thanks to a tactic of shaping universal coverage to benefit companies, a review of lobbying efforts shows.

While Congress haggles over healthcare reform, insurers could reap the benefits by a proposal that would require Americans to buy health insurance, subsidizing costs for the millions of people who can't afford it. Also likely to be included are no caps on what insurers can charge, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

These anticipated wins results from a strategy developed by a heavy hitter in Washington, Karen Ignagni, the Times said. Under Ignagni's leadership, trade group America's Health Insurance Plans adopted a goal of universal coverage while working to shape so it would benefited insurers, laying the groundwork before President Barack Obama became president.

Insurers contributed to key members of the House and Senate, lobbied hard and didn't walk away from the negotiating table when Obama and other Democrats began attacking the industry, the Times said

"While so many in this town have been playing checkers, Karen has been playing chess," said Mark Merritt, who heads the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.

Insurers oppose a government insurance program, which Congress is discussing. In addition, insurers offering Medicare health maintenance organizations are fighting more than $100 billion in cuts in federal payments to that program and an exemption from antitrust law.

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