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The Return of Harry and Louise?

When the talk of health care reform was generic — and therefore unthreatening — the insurance lobby joined a number of other powerful voices in the health care industry to announce its support. But with the Democrats pushing ever-harder to ensure the inclusion of a public plan option, the push-back is beginning to emerge. From The Hill:

[S]trong anti-insurer rhetoric from Democrats struggling to win over a skeptical public could wake the sleeping giant.

Karen Ignagni, the president and CEO of the trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), said the industry would take its case directly to the American public via a television advertising campaign and by dispatching insurance company employees to public events staged by Democratic members of Congress during the August recess. [...]

“A campaign has been launched to demonize health plans and the men and women who work hard every day in their communities to provide health insurance coverage to more than 200 million Americans,” she said on a conference call with reporters.

Famously, the insurance industry helped to kill the Clinton administration’s 1993 health reform push, running a wildly effective ad claiming that the Clinton plan would steal the rights of patients to choose their own health care plans — the same argument the industry is using now to battle the public option proposal.

Ignagni said she’s not trying to cripple the Democrats’ health reform plans, The Hill reported. But if the Democrats come up with a strong public plan option, as many want, you can bet that AHIP’s strategy will quickly change.

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