Senate Panel Meets for Vote Amid Controversy Over Costs

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , October 13, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee will meet today to vote on its 10-year $829 billion reform package—with a wall of controversy facing it. After working with the committee for months on reform provisions, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) appeared to have reversed course Monday by criticizing the emerging plan in a report that said the legislation could ratchet up the cost of coverage.

A report, prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers, said that the Senate legislation on average would cause the cost of private health insurance coverage to increase by 26% between 2009 and 2013 under the current system and 79% between 2009 and 2019 if the several provisions on insurance market reforms and taxes on health plans are implemented.

The report immediately received harsh criticism on Capitol Hill and the White House. A Finance Committee spokesman called it "a company hatchet job, plain and simple."

At the White House, criticism was leveled at AHIP for trying to "confuse" the issue. In its blog—entitled "Reality Check: AHIP's 'Study' Hard to Take Seriously," the White House disputed AHIP's finding and stated point by point how the Finance panel's legislation would instead lower costs.

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at

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