As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, November 02, 2009

8.2 Million Reasons Not To Give Up

(Sick for Profit)

The House and Senate will be voting on health care bills in a matter of weeks. But the forces behind the status quo have not quit in their efforts to derail the bill or at least get as many goodies out of it as they can.

The lobbying expenses of the top 13 health insurers and their industry association, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), spent nearly $8.2 million in the third quarter of 2009 to influence Congress on upcoming health care legislation, according to analysis released today by the nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog Public Campaign Action Fund (PCAF). The total marks an 11 percent increase over the pace of their spending in the first half of the year.

"Congress is marching toward passing landmark legislation to overhaul the health care system, and the health insurance industry is fighting them every step of the way," said David Donnelly, national campaigns director of Public Campaign Action Fund. "These insurance giants may be running out of time, but clearly they haven't run out of political cash."

This brings the total in lobbying to nearly $23 million this year, including $6.3 million from AHIP, $3.5 million from WellPoint, $3.5 million from UnitedHealth and $2 million from Aetna. Humana, which has spent $1.85 million in lobbying fees this year, saw their earnings rise 65% in the third quarter, a lot of it off the wasteful Medicare Advantage program, which represents a corporate handout and which is earmarked for scale-backs in the health care bills. Majority Leader Reid's office released this statement in response:

“It’s no wonder why Humana has been misleading seniors about health insurance reform -- they saw their profits rise 65 percent last quarter and want to make sure the gravy train doesn’t end. The insurance industry is making billions by gaming the Medicare Advantage system, at the expense of seniors’ traditional Medicare coverage, and taxpayers are footing the bill.

“The American people have had enough, but unfortunately Senate Republicans have sided with insurers like Humana and are working to protect insurance industry profits over Americans’ health care needs. When we pass health insurance reform this year, this will all come to an end. Our seniors deserve better and American taxpayers should not be asked to pad the profits of the insurance industry.”

Insurers like Humana are ready to pounce on this legislation when it hits the floor in both Chambers, particularly in the Senate, where they will use the amendments process to try and cripple reform and the cloture process to outright kill it. But the insurance industry isn't just fighting for their own self-preservation, they're fighting the interests of the people.

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