The LA Times reports that health insurance companies, on the cusp of defeating the threat of a public option and after winning a set of important legislative health reform battles, is “poised to reap a financial windfall” for their efforts. Big insurance companies have outflanked proponents of reform with a flood of lobbyists, advertising, campaign donations, and, it appears, a well-organized strategy of coordinating their employees to contact lawmakers:
— AHIP, the lobbying juggernaut representing the industry, says 50,000 employees have been engaged in writing letters and making phone calls to politicians or attending town hall meetings.
— UnitedHealth, one of the largest insurers, organized a hot-line for employees to be directed to protests and town hall meetings. In Ohio, the number directed people to attend a radical tea party protest, sponsored by religious fundamentalist Dave Daubenmire, outside the office of Rep. Zach Space (D-OH).
Earlier this month, AHIP President Karen Ignagni threatened Democrats by declaring that if lawmakers vilify her industry, “members of Congress will come back to Washington without a strong sense that health care reform is doable.” Investors and analysts now seem confident that health reform won’t cut into the high profits of the insurers, but instead, will actually be a billion dollar “bonzana” for the industry.