Taking Stock Of AHIP Report – Last 36 Hours Have Galvanized Both Sides

It’s been called a “bombshell,” but Democrats are saying the America’s Health Insurance Plans report has helped unify the party around the health care bill(s). They say it’s much easier to fight the big, bad insurance lobby that burned the White House than, for example, a Congressional Budget Office report showing increased costs and insurmountable debt as the American people are wary of skyrocketing deficits.

However, a key Democratic Senate leadership aide told TPMDC that while the report angered Democrats, it is highly unlikely to move any votes for the final bill. Another Democrat agreed the report “should” galvanize the party but doubted Democrats would take full advantage of the report, which left out some key elements in its analysis.

Responding to that news, the DNC’s Brad Woodhouse referred to it as the “AHIP Hatchet Job” and warned that anyone using the “phony” report will be subject to one of the party’s “Call you out” campaigns.

“This should lay to rest any notion that the AHIP report has any credibility whatsoever or that it should be used by members of Congress in their deliberations over health insurance reform,” Woodhouse said.

Organizing for America, the spinoff of the Obama campaign housed at the DNC, hasn’t planned any formal pushback yet but is making sure volunteers have the talking points so they can shoot the report down if they are asked while knocking on doors and making calls.A Democratic operative told TPMDC the report will help politically since insurance companies have such low approval ratings and the American people already mistrust the messenger.

“A slew of independent observers finding flaws in the fundamentals of the study effectively made the case that they would say anything to protect their profits,” the Democrat said.

Democratic strategist James Boyce, who is working on a new project to push the public option, blasted the AHIP report as a “scare tactic” that should be a wake-up call to Democrats on the fence about voting for the bill.

“It’s a business, and it’s not a surprise they are going to do everything they can to prevent health care reform from happening, the same way oil companies are going to do everything they can to block clean energy,” Boyce said.

Over at the Senate Finance Committee, where Brian is live-blogging from his prime seat, Sen. Bill Nelson is blasting AHIP for attempting to “cherry-pick” at the “eleventh hour” to protect their profits.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said during the committee hearing the report proved the insurance industry “remains right where it’s been all along.”

The White House writes in a blog today the report is “hard to take seriously” and posts talking points batting it down. Expect Robert Gibbs to have some fun with it today as well.

And even though some cautioned against using the AHIP report as justification for opposition, today it’s been popping up all over the place.

The new GOP Web site (which Evan wrote about here) revealed today cites the AHIP report three times to prove the SFC vote will “Burden Americans With Higher Premiums, Taxes & Deficits.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) also used the report on his Facebook page and Twitter, telling his fans he will ask CBO to evaluate its claims.

“Don’t take the insurance industry’s word for it; check out what guaranteed issue and community rating, and yes, an individual mandate have done to costs in the various states where they have been tried,” he wrote.

Nancy-Ann DeParle, the “czar” who leads the White House Office of Health Care Reform, told ABC News today the report is “ludicrous” and can be compared to flat-earthers.

“That’s like saying, ‘Most people think the earth is round but if it is flat, here is what it would look like,'” DeParle said.

As Think Progress notes, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told Don Imus today he doesn’t support the Baucus bill, citing increased costs as his reason without fully embracing the AHIP report.

Late update: Rep. Tony Weiner was on Maddow last night blasting AHIP. We have the clip: