Schumer drawing blood in D.C. health insurance flap

WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 30: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (L) speaks with Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) (R) before a markup hearing of the Senate Finance Committee September 30, 2009 in Washington, DC. The committee markup was on pending national health care legislation entitled "America's Health Future Act." (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) (Credit: Getty/Win McNamee)

The nation's top health insurance lobbying group, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) blasted the Senate Finance Committee's health overhaul legislation to be voted on tomorrow, issuing a study charging the bill will actually make health insurance premiums go higher, rather than lower, than expected.

Partly to blame, the study said, are two amendments that Sen. Charles Schumer added to the legislation -- one exempting 2 million people from being required to buy health insurance, and another that weakened and phased in penalties for those who do have to buy it.

Among the reasons for this startling finding, the study cites "weak individual coverage requirement" and "allowing more individuals to 'opt out' of coverage" -- the Schumer amendments adopted by the committee on Oct. 1.

The study caught many by surprise. The White House acted with dismay and anger, AARP dismissed the study as "worthless" and the spokesman for the Democratic majority on the Senate Finance Committee called it a "hatchet job."

So far, Schumer has held fire, making no comments and issuing no statements.

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