"Deceptive and Dishonest" Health Insurers (Companies Would Kill Reform at Any Cost)
Published: October 17, 2009
Filed at 6:12 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama lashed out on Saturday against the "deceptive and dishonest" efforts of health insurance companies, who he said are trying to kill healthcare reform, no matter the cost to the country.
The Democratic president's push to overhaul the $2.5 trillion (1.528 trillion pound) U.S. healthcare industry, his top domestic policy priority, received a big boost this week when the Senate Finance Committee approved its version of a reform measure with the support of Republican Senator Olympia Snowe.
Many experts expect some version of a healthcare bill will pass this year, but there are still major disagreements on details including whether the measure will include a government-run insurance program, the "public option." "For the first time ever, all five committees in Congress responsible for health reform have passed a version of legislation," Obama said in his weekly radio address. "As I speak to you today, we are closer to reforming the health care system than we have ever been in history."
However, he acknowledged the overhaul still must clear significant hurdles before becoming law. "And there are still those who would try to kill reform at any cost," he said. "The history is clear: for decades rising health care costs have unleashed havoc on families, businesses and the economy. And for decades, whenever we have tried to reform the system, the insurance companies have done everything in their considerable power to stop us."
WASHINGTON — President Obama mounted a frontal assault on the insurance industry on Saturday, accusing it of airing “deceptive and dishonest ads” to derail his health care legislation and threatening to strip the industry of its longstanding exemption from federal anti-trust laws.
In unusually harsh terms, Mr. Obama cast insurance companies as obstacles to change interested only in preserving their own “profits and bonuses” and willing to “bend the truth or break it” to stop his drive to remake the nation’s health care system. The president used his weekly radio and Internet address to push back against industry assertions that legislation will drive up premiums.
“It’s smoke and mirrors,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, ‘Take one of these, and call us in a decade.’ Well, not this time.”
Rather than trying to curb costs and help patients, he said the industry is busy “figuring out how to avoid covering people. And they’re earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exemption from our anti-trust laws, a matter that Congress is rightfully reviewing.”