Trade groups representing health insurance underwriters warned Senators Tuesday that inclusion of a public plan in any health care reform legislation would have “devastating consequences” on the private healthcare delivery system.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama stepped up his efforts to build support for healthcare reform legislation.
A government-run plan ultimately would add to the federal budget deficit, stated Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, and Scott Serota, president and CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, in a letter to members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee.
No matter how it is initially structured, a government-run plan “would dismantle employer-based coverage, significantly increase costs for those who remain in private coverage, and add additional liabilities to the federal budget,” Ignagni and Serota told the Senators, who are continuing work today to mark up their version of health care reform legislation.
But sustaining the current private system, albeit with “strong market rules and consumer protections,” would ensure that “nobody falls through the cracks without disrupting the coverage of tens of millions of Americans who like and want to keep their current health plans,” the letter added.
Also on Tuesday, President Obama said at a press conference that he would not insist that a public plan be included in any health care reform legislation he signs.
But he also sent a loud message to the industry that one of the ways healthcare reform legislation would be paid for is through cuts in the Medicare Advantage program.
“We have not drawn lines in the sand other than that reform has to control costs and that it has to provide relief to people who don’t have health insurance or are under-insured,” the president said in a response to a question at his news conference. “You know, those are the broad parameters that we’ve discussed.”
As for Medicare Advantage, he added, “If we’re spending $177 billion over 10 years to subsidize insurance companies under Medicare Advantage, when there’s no showing that people are healthier using that program than the regular Medicare program, well, that’s not a good deal for taxpayers.”
Obama also plans an address to the nation tonight on the issue in a televised speech on ABC.