Washington- Facing virtual certainty that lawmakers will put the nation's health-care system on the operating table in 2009, the health insurance industry Wednesday unveiled its own reform prescription.

America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade group whose members insure more than 200 million Americans, said it wants to achieve universal health insurance coverage, reduce the growth of health care costs by 30 percent, and guarantee insurance coverage for pre-existing medical conditions as long as individual coverage is mandated.

"Reform needs to be comprehensive and it needs to happen now," said the industry group's chief executive officer, Karen Ignagni, adding that a "listening tour" the group conducted this summer in Ohio and other states made it recognize "the status quo is unacceptable" and devise alternatives.

The industry effort marks a reversal of its stance more than a decade ago, when insurers helped defeat health care reform plans with tactics that included "Harry and Louise" television ads, where a fictional couple complained a proposal promoted by President Bill Clinton would create a government bureaucracy that would limit health-care options.

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