Yes, it's the kiss of death as far as anyone who agrees with the demonization of the health care industry is concerned: health insurers are praising Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus for his efforts on his long-awaited health reform bill. But, and this is an important but--they don't like it.

His plan to create insurance co-ops is unnecessary in their view, and that's a big focal point of the proposal: it stands in for President Obama's favored government-administered health insurance plan, allegedly driving down insurance premiums via the same mechanism, by forcing for-profit insurance companies to compete with something that doesn't have to make money.

No wonder they're against it.

Here's what the insurance industry's chief representative, America's Health Insurance Plans CEO Karen Ignagni, had to say about Baucus's bill in a statement released this afternoon:

Senator Max Baucus has led an unprecedented and rigorous bipartisan process to enact health care reform this year and challenged all stakeholders to contribute to this process.  The introduction of legislation in the Finance Committee is a very important step in the health care reform process.

Health plans have stepped up and proposed robust insurance market reforms to ensure nobody falls through the cracks and a complete overhaul of administrative processes that will improve efficiency, reduce paperwork, and free up time for doctors to focus on patient care.  We also advocated and support a new reinsurance mechanism to assist in the transition to new market rules.

We are committed to working with policymakers and stakeholders to find savings in the Medicare program, including Medicare Advantage, but it is important to ensure seniors' health care choices are protected.

New health insurance reforms and consumer protections will guarantee access for all Americans without the need for a new untested government-created co-op that could disrupt the quality coverage on which millions of Americans rely today.  We believe there is an opportunity for additional system-wide cost containment to ensure coverage is more affordable and to put our health care system on a sustainable and fiscally responsible path.  New taxes on health care coverage will have the opposite effect by making coverage less affordable for families and employers across the country.

As the process progresses, health plans will continue working with members of Congress to enact bipartisan legislation this year that will cover all Americans, make coverage more affordable, and improve quality.

It's been noted that Baucus has met many of the guidelines laid out by President Obama in his speech before Congress last week, but apparently he's met another one in earning opposition from insurers. That's the bare minimum for any proposal to earn the support of liberals, though they've already come out swinging against Baucus's proposal.

AHIP's opposition to the Baucus plan might boost its standing marginally in the eyes of some Democrats, but don't count on them to jump on board just yet.

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