Insurance industry's last-minute attacks on reform just don't make sense


As everyone knows--and even those of you working in managed care would have to admit--the health insurance industry is about as crafty a lobby as you could imagine. Admittedly, getting your way sometimes involves brute force, too, but more often, intelligence, persuasiveness and nice fat checks are more likely to work.

In this case, though, I'm scratching my head as I look at the tactic AHIP has chosen for what's likely to be the final major round of the health reform debate for years to come. While I understand why the group would want to make its members' position heard, pumping out bad news regarding health reform's impact this late in the process is bad form at best, self-destructive at worst.

Even if AHIP is right about adverse selection--and to be honest I have to admit I see the logic of their position--demanding now that Congress include a national insurance mandate by making dire predictions strikes me as a case of desperation--even if it might have been business as usual six months ago.

I suppose those of us in pundit land, like myself, will never know just what drove AHIP to such recklessness. Was it the combined pressure from the public option lobby or the guaranteed issue supporters that made the group mind snap? Did Karen Ignagni get mislead by the prophecies of three witches by the roadside? Did the Dems get AHIP to do something that would make it look really bad in exchange for some other favor down the road? The mind boggles.

The bottom line is that even if every prophecy made by AHIP turns out to be true, they've sacrificed much credibility by going at things the way they have at this point. When you've got the billions of the nation's largest health plans behind you, there's just no excuse for such bad timing. - Anne

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