Sebelius Calls Out Health-Care Opposition

The goal over the past month for the Obama administration has been to discredit its opponents on health reform. It's why the president hosted the televised policy summit last month, which wasn't really about finding common ground, but was mostly an effort to show in a public setting that the other side's ideas to fix the ailing health-care system were all talk and no action.

Now the administration is taking the fight to the real opponents of reform, the lobbyists who have funneled more than $20 million over the past year toward blocking a bill. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius prepared some straight talk for her address this morning to the annual conference of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the top lobbying force that's been a thorn in the side of Democrats. Even though it was delivered respectfully, Sebelius's message was clear: if reform fails, all the impending evils will be of your own doing—and will affect your business, too.

You can choose to continue your opposition to reform. If you do and reform goes down in defeat, we know what will happen. By next March, premiums will be taking an even bigger bite out of Americans' wages. More Americans will lose the security of employer-sponsored insurance. More small businesses will be forced to shut down or cancel their employees' coverage. Parents and children with preexisting conditions will continue to be shut out of the insurance market. And Americans will continue to live in fear of the next letter from their insurer announcing the latest premium hike . . .

You can choose to take the millions of dollars you have stored away for your next round of ads to kill meaningful reform, and use them to start giving Americans some relief from their skyrocketing premiums. Instead of spending your energy attacking the parts of the president's proposal you don't like, you can use it to strengthen the parts you do.

The fact that Sebelius is even engaging with AHIP means that the industry group's efforts have been effective. It also means that health reform might actually be on the ropes, in desperate need of a change in public opinion.