In the months after President Obama's inauguration, he and other administration officials held more than two dozen secret meetings with top insurers and the major pharmaceutical groups. He met with registered lobbyist Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, the major private insurer's industry group, on March 5, 6 and 11, May 11 and June 30.
The meeting with AHIP and the other industry bigwigs was followed by a much public and much ballyhooed pledge by the private insurers and the pharmaceuticals to plough tens of millions of dollars into an ad and PR blitz to back Obama's health care reform plan. They solemnly and very publicly assured that they'd work closely with Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus and his five other gang of five cohorts on the Committee to not be the hard headed obstructionists they'd been for the past six decades to getting health care reform passed. Obama bought their pledge, back patted them for their spirit of cooperation, and publicly hailed them for promising to break down the final barrier, namely themselves, to providing affordable health care to all Americans.
The insurers hustled, conned and lied to Obama. They cynically played upon his political naivete' about them. Worse, they didn't even try to mask their play of him. AHIP brazenly fired off to the press a study it commissioned that claims that Obama's health care reform plan will hike the cost of insurance for families by thousands. The insurers insist that private employers will get hit even harder with the increased fees, taxes, and add-on costs in the reform plan. They swear that will cause many employers to reduce or even eliminate coverage for their employees. The insurers doubled down on their play of Obama by threatening to spend a fortune on an ad campaign to kill his plan.
The worst part of the insurers con game is that they had already squeezed a guaranteed profit bonanza out of the White House and the Senate Finance Committee--no public option, government enforced mandates complete with penalties, taxpayer subsidies of the poor and middle class uninsured, forced employer mandated plans, and best of all absolutely no meaningful government hammer over them to make sure that they don't raise prices or figure out ways to dump those who private insurers label "high risk" or less charitably, "undesirables" at the first chance they get. Those are the millions who suffer chronic and major diseases--cancer, diabetes, asthma and heart disease. The overwhelming majority of them are blacks and Latinos and th