POLITICS
08/20/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Health Insurance Lobby Supports "Bipartisan Reforms," Attacks Public Option (VIDEO)

The lobbying group America's Health Insurance Plans, has launched a seven-figure advertising campaign claiming to support "bipartisan reforms" for health care.

In a testament to the strength of the health care reform movement, even insurance companies now admit the system is broken. In an ad called Illness, AHIP declares: "Let's fix health care."

But the group opposes the actual reforms President Obama and the Democratic leadership have proposed.

"We have serious concerns with that legislation, particularly having to do with a government-run insurance plan that's going to use Medicare rates," said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for AHIP, in an interview with the Huffington Post.

Instead, AHIP favors a bipartisan solution, which, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), necessitates that Democrats eliminate the public option.

When asked point-blank whether AHIP opposes a public health option, Zirkelbach said, "That's very correct. A government-run plan in any form is simply not necessary." A public option, he claimed, would "bankrupt hospitals all over California" and force "as many as 120 million people" off the private system.

Last month, in a federal hearing, insurance industry executives were unapologetic, telling lawmakers that they would not stop denying medical care to policyholders based on sicknesses and pre-existing conditions. Now insurance companies are playing defense, after taking fire for this behavior.

AHIP has acknowledged that "health care costs are crushing our economy," but the group insists that premiums are rising in accordance with provider costs and are willing to make concessions to improve the system.

Health Care For America Now, a coalition of groups advocating reform, dismissed the sincerity of AHIP's campaign. "There's nothing in that ad that implies that they're at all culpable for America's health care problems," HCAN Communications Director Jacki Schechner told the Huffington Post.

"The health insurance industry is putting out an ad that totally ignores its own role in creating the health care mess. We know we can't trust them. The American people know they can't trust them. And their using a word like 'bipartisan' is incredibly transparent. What it shows is that they're obviously trying to slow down or stall the process," said Schechner.

Watch the ad, called Illness:

Transcript:

Illness doesn't care where you live. Or if you're already sick. Or if you lose your job. Your health insurance shouldn't either. So let's fix health care. If everyone's covered, we can make health care as affordable as possible. And the words pre-existing condition become a thing of the past. We're America's health insurance companies, supporting bipartisan reforms that Congress can build on.