Christmas Just Came Again

We long suspected AHIP was funneling money to the Chamber while standing up and claiming to be all in favor of reform. We just didn’t have proof. Thank you, Peter Stone, for digging up the proof. National Journal:

Just as dealings with the Obama administration and congressional Democrats soured last summer, six of the nation’s biggest health insurers began quietly pumping big money into third-party television ads aimed at killing or significantly modifying the major health reform bills moving through Congress.

That money, between $10 million and $20 million, came from Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser Foundation Health Plans, UnitedHealth Group and Wellpoint, according to two health care lobbyists familiar with the transactions. The companies are all members of the powerful trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans.

The funds were solicited by AHIP and funneled to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help underwrite tens of millions of dollars of television ads by two business coalitions set up and subsidized by the chamber. Each insurer kicked in at least $1 million and some gave multi-million dollar donations.

“There’s no question that AHIP has quietly solicited monies from their members which were funneled over to the chamber for their ads,” said a source. The total donated by the health insurers, according to one estimate, was as much as one quarter of the chamber’s total healthcare advertising budget.

Read the whole article. Here’s our statement in response:

“AHIP has paid lip service to reform while paying the Chamber to oppose it. Insurers rigged and gamed the political system the same way they do with people’s health insurance claims and medical care.

We’ve assumed all along the insurance industry was secretly funding the Chamber of Commerce’s vicious campaign against reform. The National Journal article exposes AHIP and its member companies for what they are – corporate machines that care about profits, not people.

We demand the Chamber of Commerce reveal exactly how much money it has received from the insurance industry to kill reform, and we demand AHIP and the insurance companies reveal how much money they are funneling into other front groups besides the Chamber.

Every time we see an ad against reform, Americans should ask which insurance company paid for it. And going forward, we should now always be asking, ‘When the Chamber of Commerce talks, who’s paying?’

If the National Journal found evidence of $20 million, imagine how much more of our overpriced premiums have been used to pay for deceitful ads to protect insurance profits.

We simply cannot trust the health insurance industry to act in anyone’s best interest but its own.”

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