Secret AHIP Talking Points: Mandates Good, Public Option Bad

October 13, 2009 1:35 p.m.

A health insurance agent and TPM reader sends along this set of health care reform talking points the agent says AHIP is distributing to local insurance offices across the country. Our agent got the talking points from the password-protected agent-only website of a major insurer.

“I was surprised to see AHIP is against any kind of public option at any time,” the source told TPMDC when asked why he was forwarding the information our way.

The AHIP talking points offer several arguments against what the documents call a “government-run plan.” Chief among them is that passing a public plan amounts to “turning back the clock on quality, care coordination and disease management.” The AHIP memo also says that under a public plan “patients’ choices and access to health care will suffer.”

AHIP agrees with President Obama that “now is the time for comprehensive health care reform that makes coverage more affordable, improves quality, covers all Americans and puts the health care system back on a sustainable path,” according to the talking points.

But the insurance industry lobbying group says the only way to achieve those goals without “unintended consequences” for patients is through “far-reaching administrative reforms” proposed by AHIP that would “slash paperwork, reduce medical errors and ensure doctors and hospitals can focus on patient care.”

The group dismisses a public plan, stating government-run insurance “would dismantle employer-based coverage, thereby violating the shared commitment to ensure that those who like their current coverage can keep it.”

To back up its prediction of “consequences” that come with a government plan, AHIP slams Medicare, saying the 45 year-old public insurance plan “has had virtually zero innovation since its inception.”

“Many Medicare beneficiaries today have trouble locating a primary care physician that well accept new Medicare patients,” the talking points state. “Enrollees in the government-run health plan would experience similar difficulties.”

The lobbying group expresses support for another controversial aspect of the current health care debate, however. AHIP calls for “an enforceable personal coverage requirement that brings everyone into the system.” Of course, the system AHIP refers to is the private health insurance system.

An AHIP representative did not respond to multiple requests for comment this afternoon.

Read the AHIP document here.

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