Harry Reid: Don’t 'Cry Great Big Tears About the Insurance Industry'
July 30, 2009 - 4:36 PMSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday said the American public should not cry over how health care reform might affect the health insurance industry.
“I don’t think we should be crying great big tears about the insurance industry,” Reid said at a Capitol Hill press conference when asked whether insurance companies should be allowed to charge higher premiums for people with preexisting conditions.
“There is no business in America that makes more money than the insurance industry--over the last 10 years their profits have been increased by 450 percent,” Reid said. “So I’m not really in very much of a mood to worry about the insurance industry.”
The health insurance industry is so wealthy because it is exempt from anti-trust laws, Reid said: “The insurance industry, my friends, is the only industry other than baseball that is exempt from the anti-trust act, and that’s the reason they have 450 percent profit over the last ten years.”
Reid also criticized Republicans in both the Senate and the House as being uncooperative in the health care reform debate, and stressed the need for passing a health care bill by the end of the year -- if not before.
Reid was joined by representatives from the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the American Osteopathic Association, the American Medical Student Association, Doctors for America, and the National Physicians Alliance.
Reid was the second top congressional Democrat on Thursday to address sharply critical words at the insurance industry. Reuters reported that earlier in the day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) referred to health insurance companies as "the villains." The Reuters story carrying Pelosi's remarks was posted prominently on the Drudge Report.
“It's almost immoral what they are doing," Pelosi said, according to Reuters.
"Of course they've been immoral all along in how they have treated the people that they insure," she said, the news agency reported. “They are the villains. They have been part of the problem in a major way. They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening.”
The Associated Press, meanwhile, reported that Pelosi had given House Democrats a set of talking points to use when they return to their districts for the August recess, when health care reform is likely to be a major topic of discussion with constituents. The talking points are entitled, “Health Insurance Reform to Hold Insurance Companies Accountable.”
These talking points, according to the Associated Press, “showcased Democrats' stepped-up efforts to cast insurance companies as villains in the debate, as polls show a public increasingly wary of the health care effort.”