Reid vows to fight insurance industry

After months of debate over proposals to reform the American system of health care delivery, the health insurance industry is openly flexing its muscle in opposition to reform.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, is running ads aimed at seniors that warn of cutbacks to Medicare benefits if reform survives.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who is responsible for shaping proposals from two Senate committees into one bill, says he won’t be swayed by the insurance industry’s tactics.

“We are going to take on the insurance industry. They are running ads, they want us to fail. We are not going to fail,” Reid said Saturday during an appearance in Las Vegas. “The insurance industry is trying to bully their way through Washington; they have done it far too long.”

On Sunday the Washington Post reported that Reid, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., would be the main negotiators, along with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, working to create a combined bill.

The Post says the meetings will be in Reid’s office with Dodd advocating on behalf of those in favor of including a government-run insurance plan, or public option, and Baucus representing those less committed to such an option.

According to the Post, Reid and Emanuel will be tiebreakers.

The meetings will occur behind closed doors in Reid’s office, according to the Post.

The report says that is counter to what President Barack Obama said last year.

“I’m going to have all the negotiations around a big table,” said Obama during his campaign. He added the meeting would be “televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.”

TITUS HOSTING TOWN HALL EVENT

Even if the negotiations aren’t on C-SPAN, Las Vegans will still get a chance to contribute their thoughts on health insurance reform proposals.

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., is hosting a town hall event on health care from 7 p.m. to 8 tonight at Temple Ner Tamid, 55 North Valle Verde Drive in Henderson.

TWO SENATORS TOP REID’S FUNDS

While Reid is well on his way to raising $25 million for his re-election in 2010 and has outraised all his opponents combined, there are two other senators with more cash on hand than Reid, according to recent campaign finance reports.

National Journal compiled reports recently and showed Reid, with $8.7 million, trailing Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., who has $12.7 million, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who has $16.6 million.

SCANDAL COSTING ENSIGN

The political scandal swirling around Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., is harmful to his fundraising.

Politico reported Ensign raised just $33,000 from July 1 to Sept. 30, down from $301,000 and change he raised during the previous quarter.

Ensign in June admitted to an affair with a former employee. Subsequent reports that his parents had paid $96,000 to the woman’s husband, also an Ensign employee at the time of the affair, gave the scandal more depth.

Politico says the finance report also shows Ensign spent $46,000 on legal fees, consultants and administrative expenses. That means unless Ensign can raise more or spend less, the once prolific fundraiser is losing money.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861.

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