When Harry Met HCAN

We’re not buying it this time around.

This morning’s Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Health insurance industry launches own reform drive in Ohio

…Fifteen years ago, insurers helped sink reforms proposed by President Clinton with an ad campaign featuring a fictional couple, “Harry and Louise,” who complained Clinton’s cures would worsen problems.

Now, the industry is more conciliatory. Its first newspaper ads say: “Health care costs too much. We agree.” The insurers won’t reveal how much they’re spending on their “Campaign for an American Solution” initiative, or say whether they prefer proposals by Republican Sen. John McCain or Democrat Sen. Barack Obama.

“They are both talking about areas where there’s lots of room for consensus, like prevention, management of chronic conditions, and making expansion of coverage a top priority,” says AHIP Executive Vice President Mike Tuffin.

The insurers want any reforms to build on the current system, which covers 250 million Americans, and say that tax credits could be used to extend coverage to some of the nation’s 47 million uninsured. When they hold their event in Columbus, a separate health-care reform coalition funded by labor unions and Democratic-leaning activist groups will protest outside. That group, called Health Care for America Now, says that profit-driven health insurers can’t be trusted to fix the system.

Health Care for America Now – which launched its own $40 million voter mobilization campaign earlier this month with events in 38 states – wants private insurers to be regulated strictly, so they can’t deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, hike premiums for the sick or elderly, or charge higher rates to women. It also seeks public health insurance as an alternative to private plans.

“Health care will be a big issue regardless of who is elected president,” says the group’s national campaign manager, Richard Kirsch. He prefers Obama’s approach to McCain’s, in part because Obama wants a public health insurance option….

image courtesy of Goddard Claussen

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