Industry Groups Push Back on Kennedy's Health Bill
By JANET ADAMY
June 10, 2009
Wall Street Journal
Employers and health-insurance companies are pushing back against parts of a health bill proposed by Sen. Edward Kennedy, in a sign of the challenges that loom for Democratic-led legislation.
Lobbyists spent Wednesday combing through the "Affordable Health Choices Act" that the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions released a day earlier. The bill would require most Americans to buy health insurance and would create government-run exchanges where they could buy policies. It also calls for a new government health-insurance plan and indicates employers would be required to help pay for employees' plans...
"The president, I thought, was very flexible except on one thing, and that was getting it done,'' said Sen. Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.
...Health insurers are also strongly against a public plan.
The Kennedy bill, like others being discussed in Congress, envisions consumers and some businesses comparison-shopping for health insurance on the exchanges. That concept has enjoyed widespread support so far, but industry groups are finding fault with some of the details...
...Insurers are pushing for some plans to be able to operate outside the exchanges -- a move that worries lawmakers.
"We've got concerns," said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, the main lobby for the health-insurance industry...