WASHINGTON -- The White House is turning to the Internet to hit back at a Web posting that claims to show President Obama explaining how his health care reform plans eventually would eliminate private insurance.
The 3-minute White House video features Linda Douglass, a former network television correspondent and now White House Office of Health Reform communications director, sitting in front of a computer screen showing the Drudge Report Web site. That site carries a series of video clips from another blogger who strings together selected Obama statements on health care to make it appear he wants to eliminate the private health insurance business.
In the video Douglass says the site is "taking sentences and phrases out of context, and they're cobbling them together to leave a very false impression."
Separately Tuesday, the leading health insurance trade group hit back at Democrats' growing criticism of the industry. Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, contended the attacks were motivated by increasing public doubts about the introduction of a new public insurance plan to compete with the private market. Obama and Democrats support such a plan but insurers contend it would drive them out of business.
People in the health insurance industry "do not deserve to be demonized or vilified as part of a campaign to distract attention away from the sinking support for a government-run program," Ignagni said on a media conference call.
Ignagni did not name names and declined to say whether her group, which has been working with lawmakers and is running positive TV ads supporting bipartisan health reform, would walk away from the table or go negative against Obama's agenda. She said insurance industry employees were being encouraged to attend town hall meetings being held by members of Congress this month to make their views known.
In recent weeks Obama has taken to referring to his health care overhaul initiative as "health insurance reform" instead of "health care reform." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other congressional Democrats have noticeably heightened their attacks on the health insurance industry, with Pelosi accusing insurers last week of making "obscene" and "immoral" profits.