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Insurers vs Insurance Reform

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"Insurers vs Insurance Reform"

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The Obama administration has structured its health insurance reform plan, from the beginning, in a way that’s more favorable to the interests of the insurance industry than a lot of alternative schemes would be. When the robust public option got watered-down to a level playing field public option, that became even more true. And with the public option dead, it’s more true than ever. Still, as Jon Chait says the leap from that conclusion—made by many critics on the left and the right—that the resulting legislation is a “giveaway” to the insurance industry of some kind is a bit hard to square with the fact that insurers are trying to kill the bill:

Reacting to President Obama’s recent statements that he will move ahead with legislation, health insurance companies have enlisted hundreds of lobbyists in a full-court press against the proposed overhaul, which would force dramatic cuts and increased regulation on the industry. At the same time, insurers are pushing back against a separate bill approved by the House last week that would remove the industry’s antitrust exemption.

“Sticking it to insurance companies” should not be one of the primary goals of health care policy, so at the end of the day the meta-argument about who is and is not doing insurance companies’ bidding is of secondary importance in assessing the merits of the bill. But it’s worth being clear—insurers don’t like this plan very much.

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