POLITICS

Private Insurance Stays Silent, 'Neutral' On Health Care Repeal

02/03/2011 12:37 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

WASHINGTON -- After Republican leadership failed to pass repeal legislation in the Senate on Wednesday night, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was quick to pounce, sending out press releases accusing those who voted in the yea of caving to "big insurance."

It was a nostalgia-inducing charge, riffed largely from the script that the party used during the actual legislation-making process. Private insurance companies are oft vilified and horribly regarded. Tying them to the GOP makes for effective politics.

But it also glosses over some policy nuance.

While America's Health Insurance Plans, the private insurance trade group, spent millions (through the Chamber of Commerce) to defeat the health care bill, it has yet to take a formal position on repeal. One insurance industry official described the group as "neutral" on the matter. But AHIP has said next to nothing about the votes.

The group hardly qualifies as a champion of the law. Post-passage, its press and news releases have been a conduit for unflattering stories about Affordable Care Act developments.

In terms of legislative action, however, AHIP does appear more interested in -- drastically -- reforming the president's signature legislation than in axing it altogether, undoubtedly cognizant that, once implemented, the bill will increase the number of individuals required to buy their product.

"We continue to believe that changes are needed to the health care reform law in order to minimize coverage disruptions and cost increases for families and employers," said Robert Zirkelbach, press secretary for AHIP. "While the new law will bring more people into the system, major provisions will raise costs and disrupt the coverage people have today, including: new taxes on small businesses' health insurance; age rating restrictions that will cause premiums to skyrocket for younger workers; and massive Medicare Advantage cuts that will result in higher premiums, reduced benefits, and fewer choices for seniors.

"We will continue to work with members of Congress from both parties to address these issues."

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