A trade association for health insurers is responding after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D - Calif.) labeled private insurers “villains” for working to defeat a public option for health insurance.

“Health care reform is far too important to be dragged down by divisive political rhetoric from Washington, D.C.,” America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) spokesman Robert Zirkelbach said in a statement. “Health plans have been working in support of bipartisan health care reform for three years. Our community has proposed guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions, discontinuing rating based on a person’s health status or gender, and a personal coverage requirement to get everyone into the system. We have proposed far-reaching administrative reforms to slash paperwork, reduce medical errors, and ensure doctors and hospitals can focus on patient care.”

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