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Insurance exec: Congress must rein in healthcare costs

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The chief representative of the nation’s health insurance industry says there is still a strong possibility that Congress will pass healthcare reform this year. But she says it will take longer than the White House is predicting and will require a more detailed discussion of costs by Congress.

Karen Ignagni, president and chief executive officer of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), had earlier argued that August “would be a make or break month for health reform.” But now she feels August was “a lost opportunity” to build public support for healthcare reform, she said at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast.

The healthcare town halls were hijacked by the issue of a government-run health-insurance plan – the so-called public option. “August should not have been a month about division, rhetorical division.”

Healthcare reform by Christmas

Ms. Ignagni does not see the setback as fatal to healthcare reform legislation, however.

“I have always thought that this was perhaps an issue that was going to be resolved in December, not in October,” she said.

For its part, the White House continues to be more optimistic. Earlier this week, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag told Bloomberg News that healthcare legislation could clear Congress over the next six weeks or so “maybe sooner.”

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