THE INFLUENCE GAME: Health cry is tax them, not us
By CHARLES BABINGTON (AP) – 1 hour ago
WASHINGTON — Insurance companies, unions and other special interest groups pushed back hard Wednesday against health care legislation that could cost their members billions of dollars.
If they succeed in shifting the proposed taxes away from them, then Congress and the Obama administration will have all the more difficulty paying for the roughly $900 billion, 10-year plan.
A full-page newspaper ad by labor unions, and an insurance industry TV ad aimed at elderly Americans, are the latest efforts by major groups to transfer burdens to someone else — anyone else.
The lobbying and jockeying worry some lawmakers, who say a closely watched Senate bill that advanced Tuesday is a delicate balance of opposing forces. The Senate Finance Committee endorsed it, 14-9, making it the first health care bill to draw a Republican vote in either house this year.
But new barriers lie ahead.
About 30 unions are running a full-page ad in Washington newspapers opposing the measure’s plan to tax generous employer-provided health plans. The ad calls the Senate bill “deeply flawed.”
Such efforts may already be bearing fruit. Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters Wednesday that the bill probably will be changed to tax fewer high-cost health plans. “Of course, that will cost money,” Durbin said, adding that he did not know where it would come from.