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Finance Prepares for Key Health Care Vote

The Senate Finance Committee is expected Tuesday to approve its $829 billion health care package, mostly along party lines. But that vote comes amid fresh attacks from the insurance industry, which blasts the legislation as ineffective in a new study it commissioned. The PricewaterhouseCoopers report, conducted for America’s Health Insurance Plans, argues that Finance Chairman Max Baucus’ (D-Mont.) bill will cause health insurance premiums to rise at a greater rate than if nothing is done at all. The White House and Baucus’ staff have responded, however, attacking the report’s credibility.“The PricewaterhouseCoopers report is an insurance-funded report. It is deeply flawed,— a Finance Committee aide said Monday afternoon in a hastily arranged conference call.The insurance industry study is not expected to influence the Finance panel’s vote set for later Tuesday. But the AHIP thus far is holding its ground, ending an unusual détente between President Barack Obama, Democratic leaders and insurers over the health care reform effort.Sources said Monday that the insurance industry also plans to run television ads critical of Democratic health care proposals, although no timeline was given for when the first spots would air. “The report makes clear that several major provisions in the current legislative proposal will cause health care costs to increase far faster and higher than they would under the current system,— Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of the AHIP, said in an Oct. 11 memo to the group’s members about the PricewaterhouseCoopers report.

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