12:46 PM Eastern - Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Insurance Industry-Sponsored Filibuster

Today, the insurance industry publicly endorsed the Republican filibuster against health insurance reform. That's right - insurance industry lobbyists want you to filibuster reform. (That's a ringing endorsement if I've ever heard one.)

Oh, but it gets better. The insurance industry has a letter they'd like you - the concerned American consumer - to send to Congress on their behalf. The letter, which is written in the first person and which users cannot edit, is chock full of distortions, half-truths and blatant fear-mongering.

We couldn't resist posting this "Get Health Reform Right" activist letter to Congress, and breaking it down point-by-point:

Subject Line: Reject a Government Plan: Vote "NO" on Cloture

Dear Member of Congress:

There is no question that healthcare reform is badly needed. However, I am concerned that some legislation in Congress will create a new government-run health plan that will cause me to lose my current employer coverage.

Translation: Insurance companies are scared to death of competing side-by-side with a public health insurance option. They don't want Americans to have a choice, forcing them to lower costs and improve coverage.

The CBO has roundly rejected the argument that the Senate health care bill would raise premiums for families who get health care through their employer, yet the insurance lobby continues to peddle this false claim. In addition, the CBO found that in 2016, premiums for employer-sponsored insurance in the large-group and small-group markets would remain stable.

The truth is a minor inconvenience when you own entire think tanks, like the UnitedHealth-owned Lewin Group.

I want to be sure that I can keep my current coverage, and I urge you to oppose any new government-run health insurance plan.

I don't understand why a new government-run plan is needed to help people get health insurance.

Translation: I don't understand because I'm relying on an insurance industry front-group to provide me with the information on health insurance reform. Funny how that works, isn't it?

I've read that studies indicate that many people will lose their current employer coverage if a new government plan is created.

Translation: There are those mysterious "studies" again. Can you guess where they came from? Yep - the insurance industry funded them!

I'm worried that the U.S. is headed toward a Canadian system where people face long waits for medical care and services.

Translation:

I'm glad Congress is moving forward with healthcare reform, but I ask that you oppose any proposal to create a new government-run plan. We all have a big stake in healthcare reform, so let's get it right.

Translation: The insurance industry is a big fan of proposed insurance requirements - especially the inclusion of healthier, younger people as new, paying customers. What they don't want is for those same healthier, younger people to have a choice about where they get their insurance. Because competition seriously cuts into those multi-million dollar year-end CEO bonuses.

The "Get Health Reform Right" campaign gets health reform right for insurers, not for you. What's remarkable is that they're now asking customers to lobby on their behalf. Something tells me this won't be the next "viral" online campaign.

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