Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has linked up with other powerful insurance company lobbying groups like the Healthcare Leadership Council and America’s Health Insurance Plans to launch www.gethealthreformright.org.
The purpose of the site is to sink the public health insurance option — and, if possible, health reform in general.
The groups are especially concerned about the bill working its way through the U.S. House that includes a public option that relies on Medicare’s negotiating power. One particularly humorous part of the site has a list of issues and then tells you which constituencies support each reform proposal. For example, under “expand coverage to everyone” the President, consumers, employers, etc. all agree.
Then there is the supposed “new government-run health plan that could force employers to drop coverage and take away choice.” Oh my. The President, we are told, supports this. “Some” consumers support it. Here’s where things get awkward. They don’t want to say that the American Medical Association officially endorsed the House plan, so doctors are listed with hospitals as opposing the public option. The problem is that the website is specifically addressing the House bill. And the AMA specifically endorsed the House bill. Can’t get much clearer than that.
There is also a form letter on the site that you can send to your representative that includes this line:
I recently read about a new study that found over 100 million Americans would be shifted into the government plan.
I don’t know why I go through this exercise with every study cited by Blue Cross, but here we go again. That study is a tired product of the Lewin Group, a research firm owned by UnitedHealth. You can read more about Lewin in the Washington Post here.
But the Congressional Budget Office estimates that about 11 million people would join the public plan that the House is proposing. Most firms that currently offer insurance would be ineligible to join the public plan in the House legislation. Lewin assumed that all employers would be eligible.
I suppose I’m a bit politically naive to think that it didn’t need to be like this. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina could have said that it supports reasonable health reforms and an individual requirement to buy insurance. It could have said that it wants a limited public option, but basically wants to build on the employer based system. And it could have made its case without including all of the ridiculous claims it includes on its website.
But Blue Cross has decided to run a misinformation campaign. So we’ll keep collecting and correcting the lies.