I’ve never met Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, personally, but I’d like to. It can’t be easy to be the public face of the health insurance industry — a group notoriously vilified and distrusted by the public — and have to dance on the tripwire of appealing to consumers, Congress and carriers when it comes to health care reform.

Following yesterday’s Senate Finance Committee vote — which approved chairman Max Baucus’ (D-Mont.) reform plan 14-9 — Ignagni had this to say:

“We strongly support comprehensive, bipartisan health care reform that covers all Americans, improves quality, and puts the health care system on an affordable, sustainable path. Health plans have proposed guaranteed coverage, elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions, and no longer basing premiums on health status or gender.  Experience in the states has shown that market reforms need to paired with universal coverage to make health care as affordable as possible. 

“While we agree with the objective of the current proposal, we are concerned about its workability and cost. The bill imposes hundreds of billions of dollars in new health care taxes and provides an incentive for people to wait until they are sick to purchase coverage. A recent analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that these provisions will cause health care costs to increase far faster and higher than they would under the current system. We believe these issues can and should be addressed. 

“Health plans will continue to work towards comprehensive, bipartisan health care reform that covers all Americans, improves quality, and makes coverage more affordable.”

Reading between the lines, but it sounds to me like she’s saying, “Look, Congress, we gave you what we could — we said we’d cover all comers and not jack up rates on cancer survivors and women. But if you don’t make everyone buy coverage, we’ll only be left covering the sick, and that’s really expensive. So expensive, that we’d raise rates on everybody — even higher and faster than we do now. So, do something about that — in a bipartisan way, of course.”

What do you think of the SFC’s vote and Ignagni’s statements? Comment and let me know.

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