A lobbyist for the American health insurance companies told an audience this morning that the the bipartisan journey to health care reform President Obama began earlier this year has reached its end.
AHIP lobbyist Steve Champlin spoke at the opening session of the health insurance trade group’s “State Issues Conference” in Washington last night. His message? The GOP should stay away from any bill put forward by the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.
Champlin, reported by the Huffington Post:
“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. So when they vote for a health care reform bill, whatever it is, they are giving comfort to the enemy who is down.”
Champlin and a fellow AHIP lobbyist said they expected a public option to make it out of the House, and suggested that some kind of public option will pass at the end of the process.
But they called on GOPers to stand their ground against any reforms, claiming that any bill wouldn’t sit well with the American public. More Champlin from the Post: “Long before the Republicans discovered that the House bill was a strategy to kill seniors and all that kind of stuff the plan was already unpopular.”
The lobbyists also defended their the insurance industry against the attacks coming at it from Obama and Democrats in recent weeks. Champlin:
“To pass health care that means change and to motivate change through creating an enemy and the enemy is the insurance company. You see that. We see that because we have been buy trying to work this thing out… it turns out they are completely uninterested in working it out. So they want us where they’ve put us right now, which is an enemy. My concern about this is that while they got polling data that says that’s where they want to be, that they got us where they want to put us. I’m not really convinced that’s where the American people want to be.”
Late Update: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid weighed in on the AHIP lobbyists statements this afternoon. “Opponents of reform have to be bewildered with two stories that we’ve seen today about the insurance industry,” he said in a statement. “At the same conference where the President of AHIP expressed support for health insurance reform, one of its top lobbyists was busy instructing Republicans on Capitol Hill to kill reform at all costs – something about not giving ‘comfort to the enemy.'”
“Senate Democrats are still trying to figure out who the enemy is,” the statement continues. “Is it the tens of millions of Americans without quality, affordable health insurance? This sounds like the right hand doesn’t know what the far right hand is doing.”