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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Big Insurance Funds Chamber of Commerce to Kill Health Care Reform

AFL-CIO NOW BLOG | Big Insurance Funds Chamber of Commerce to Kill Health Care Reform

The nation’s biggest health insurers have been funneling money quietly to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to air lie-filled, scare-mongering commercials about health care reform.

Like Capt. Renault, who discovered there was gambling going on at Rick’s Café Américain in Casablanca, we are: “Shocked, shocked….” Yeah, right.

Most observers of the health care reform fight suspected the major insurers that make up the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) were helping to foot the bill for the latest round of ads by two “business coalitions” subsidized by the Chamber. But it wasn’t until Peter Stone at the National Journal connected the dots that we had proof.

Dan Pfeiffer, White House communications director, says the report confirms

one of Washington’s worst-kept secrets—which is big insurance companies are fighting tooth and nail to kill health reform that will wrest power from their hands and give it to American families.

The big AHIP members have long tried to maintain a positive public posture of supporting some type of health care reform—just so long as reform proposals wouldn’t do anything to end their strangle hold on health care coverage and never ending, always soaring profits.

Writes Stone:

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 ads sharply criticized the high costs of the separate bills, especially the House version. The commercials warned the legislation would raise taxes for Americans and hurt the economy as it tries to recover from the recession. And some chamber-financed commercials attacked setting up a government-run plan to compete with private insurers—a special sore point for the insurance industry—which is part of the House measure.

Click here to read Stone’s entire piece.

After the story broke yesterday, Kaiser said it provided funds to AHIP for advertising with the stipulation it not be used for negative ads and AHIP assured Kaiser none was sent to the Chamber for the current campaign. Read more from Ben Smith at Politico.

On her blog, The Gavel, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi writes:

These big insurance companies appear to have gotten caught secretly bankrolling the effort to kill health insurance reform for millions of Americans, despite their disingenuous claims of support for the legislation. This duplicity is not surprising coming from an industry that has used every method to try to kill health insurance reform that would save lives, save money, save jobs, and save Medicare.

What about the commercials themselves that have been airing in dozens of media markets around the country? Media Matters takes apart the claims of the Chamber ad lie by stinking lie here.




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