Republican Aide Cautions Use of AHIP Report: Check Your Donations First

We’ve been keeping a close eye today on Republicans using the new AHIP report to talk about the health care bill leading to rising insurance costs.

Spokesman Kurt Bardella of Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) office told TPMDC that Republicans are sure to use the report as justification for opposing the plan. But he cautioned the minority party must “strike the right balance” between the report showing premiums would rise and “trying to avoid the perception they are doing the insurance industry’s bidding.”

“Any Republican that uses the report should double-check to see how much money they’ve received from the industry as that’ll be a very easy rebuttal for Dems to hit back,” Bardella said.

He views the report as “ample ammunition” for critics of the health care bill and said that it can be used by Republicans as I-told-you-so proof once a bill passes if premiums do rise over the next decade.

“Democrats won’t be able to feign surprise or cast it as an unintended consequence – they’ve been warned and if their health care reform plan – which, right or wrong, seeks to minimize private insurers, results in a defacto tax increase for middle-class Americans – it could prove to be politically devastating,” Bardella said.House Republicans have emerged as a united group since President Obama took office, giving up nearly zero votes on key administration measures all year. That’s unlikely to change, even though Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week met with the conservative House Republican Study Committee.

RSC Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) told TPMDC they had a “candidate and robust” talk with the secretary and 40 members. Sebelius didn’t try to sell the plan since she knew she was facing staunch critics. Instead she opened it up to questions right away, he said.

“If the bill doesn’t change significantly I would not anticipate any yes votes from our committee,” he said.

One discussion point was a complaint the administration has held up Tennessee’s health care system as a model, since the committee believes that failed “miserably,” he said.

Price said Sebelius told the Republicans she would evaluate and consider their ideas.

A Sebelius spokesman said it was a “productive” talk, adding, “We are always open to good ideas that will help provide stability and security for Americans with insurance and affordable options for uninsured Americans. The President’s plan contains good proposals from both parties and the bill he signs will be built on bipartisan ideas.”