KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

AHIP, Chamber Of Commerce Ramp Up Opposition To Health Reform

Insurers and the Chamber of Commerce are stepping up lobbying against a health care overhaul with new television ads.

"The health insurance industry, which had been taking a relatively tempered approach to health care legislation, has stepped up its opposition to the overhaul efforts as it has become clear that the final product will not be to its liking," Roll Call reports. America's Health Insurance Plans "has started running television spots in 10 states, including the home state of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), warning senior citizens that their benefits could be slashed." AHIP also "blasted" Reid's decision to include a public option in Senate health legislation (Roth, 10/28).

The Associated Press: "Looking to build pressure on moderate Democrats, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it will begin airing new TV ads in seven states and on national cable television attacking the emerging legislation, including a government-run insurance option. … The ad is slated to start Wednesday" (10/27).

Meanwhile, other news organizations examine the complexities which some advocacy groups and their lobbyists are confronting.

The New York Times profiles Billy Tauzin and Karen Ignagni, chief lobbyists for the pharmaceutical and insurance industries respectively. "The story of these two lobbyists - a Republican who found favor with a Democratic White House and a Democrat on the outs - illustrates the complexities Mr. Obama faces in the health care endgame. The president had some early success in bringing industry on board. But as the experiences of Mr. Tauzin and Ms. Ignagni suggest, keeping it there will be easier said than done" (Stolberg, 10/27). 

Meanwhile, "Republicans in Congress are taking aim at AARP's financial ties to the health-insurance industry just as the advocacy group is taking a more prominent role supporting an overhaul of the nation's health-care system," The Wall Street Journal reports. The House Republican Conference has been circulating talking points among lawmakers and staffers, saying AARP wants an overhaul because its business arm would benefit from legislation in both the House and the Senate" (Zhang, 10/27).

The doctor's lobby is also being scrutinized by lawmakers. "After a humiliating defeat in the Senate, the venerable American Medical Association faces a revolt from both its member doctors and one-time political allies as it struggles to influence an overhaul of the nation's health system," The Washington Post reports. "The group had pinned its hopes on winning a $247 billion, 10-year reprieve from scheduled reimbursement cuts for physicians who treat Medicare patients in return for supporting the White House push for broader changes in health care coverage. When the pay boost was sidetracked last week in the Senate, it undercut the doctors' leverage - just as final negotiations on the broader health bill intensify" (Davis, 10/28).

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