AHIP urges GOP not to give ‘comfort to the enemy’

AHIP URGES GOP NOT TO GIVE ‘COMFORT TO THE ENEMY’…. Well, I guess it’s safe to say private health insurers have no intention of rebuilding burnt bridges. Suzy Khimm noted the other day, “Activists on the left have long insisted that insurance companies aren’t to be trusted. But up until now, it’s been hard to make the charge stick, since the insurance lobby — a.k.a., America’s Health Insurance Plans — has been cooperating with the White House and its allies.”

That cooperation is officially over.

It started last week with a deceptive report on health care premiums. Soon after, insurers launched a new round of attack ads. Now, Sam Stein reports on the industry’s message to Republicans.

A top lobbyist for the major private insurance industry trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), urged Congressional Republicans to not even consider helping Democrats pass health care reform lest they aid an “enemy who is down.”

Steve Champlin, a lobbyist for the Duberstein Group who represents AHIP, declared that the road to a bipartisan health care reform bill was, essentially, dead. And he urged GOP members to keep it that way.

“There is absolutely no interest, no reason Republicans should ever vote for this thing. They have gone from a party that got killed 11 months ago to a party that is rising today. And they are rising up on the turmoil of health care,” said Champlin. “So when they vote for a health care reform bill, whatever it is, they are giving comfort to the enemy who is down.”

Chaplain made the remarks at an annual AHIP conference. He added that he expected reform with some kind of public option to pass, though he emphasized the importance of Republicans standing firm in opposition.

Now, it’s worth noting that this isn’t especially surprising. Private health insurers don’t support health care reform? They consider Democratic policymakers “the enemy”? Well, sure.

Reading this, though, I’m reminded of the Republican Meme of the Week. If the White House criticizes AHIP, and tries to leverage the industry’s antics to rally support for reform, the administration, we’re told, must be creating an “enemies list.” If Obama criticizes insurers, he resembles, we’re told, be a modern-day Nixon.

In other words, AHIP can try to derail reform, pressure Republicans to vote in lock-step against improving the broken system, and characterize the majority as “the enemy,” but if the White House pushes back, it’s the president and his team who are being outrageous.

Our discourse can be awfully frustrating sometimes.