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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rick Ungar’s recent article in Forbes highlighted what he called “the ultimate in duplicitous behavior” by the insurance trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). According to Ungar, it seems AHIP was spending $102M to defeat PPACA while simultaneously publicly supporting it (see also here for the article Ungar cites).

I have three thoughts about this: (1) I do not support duplicitous behavior; (2) I also do not think we should be surprised by it; (3) I’m not sure this is exactly as duplicitous as it appears.

First, look at this statement by AHIP president from March 18, 2010  It was issued 5 days before the first of two health reform bills was signed and it’s not exactly the equivalent of gushing PPACA fan fiction.  And lest you think that this was a last minute change in position, here and here are two more press releases from December 2009 that make substantially the same point: AHIP says, in effect, “we support universal coverage” (no surprise there) ”, but in our view this legislation doesn’t address cost issues.”     It suggests that perhaps the level of duplicity is not quite as severe as might otherwise be suggested.

That AHIP came to the table to try and influence the law is no surprise and the mere fact of AHIP representatives showing up to be in the room for talks about the law does not mean they were unreservedly waiving pom-poms in support of it.  The Rolling Stones remind us that you can’t always get what you want, but experience tells us that you’re sure to get nothing if you sit in the corner and cry while the legislation is being put together.

I’m not trying to defend AHIP here; I’m just interested in the facts.  I didn’t go back and look at every AHIP public statement so there may be others that were much more rosy (feel free to post a link below if you find one).  I appreciate Ungar’s point about consistency and truth in advocacy and I share his view on that point, but this may not be the best (worst?) example of the assault on that principle.

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