26 Aug

Who’s Paying to Kill Health Reform?

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)

Arthur Delaney, Huffington Post, August 26, 2009

In a nod to the House Republicans who devised a chart supposedly showing the bureaucratic nightmare that would result from Democratic health care reforms, the Campaign for America’s Future has devised a chart of its own, titled “Who’s Paying to Kill Health Reform?”

It’s a tangled web, with big lobbying firms, industry groups, and Astroturf organizers all linked to townhall meetings. Reflecting a widely-held view among progressives, the big kahuna behind it all is the health insurance industry, via trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans.

“They’re playing a sophisticated game at the front of the pack,” said Campaign for America’s Future’s Roger Hickey in an interview with the Huffington Post. “They’re trying to pretend that they’re in favor of reform and they’re spending some money on advertising that looks like
it’s pro-reform. And at the same time they’re working pretty hard to make sure the public plan is not in the final version. They’re primarily using their political contributions and their lobbying
efforts to do that.”

As the chart shows, AHIP is encouraging the employees of its members to attend town hall meetings. The chart also has AHIP pumping money into big PR firms, something unproved that AHIP denies — though reform advocates suspect it’s true.

“‘Launder’ is a strong word, but that’s essentially what happens,” said Wendell Potter, a former CIGNA executive turned reform advocate. “They pay money to big PR firms and set up front groups and use connections with members of Congress. These are their shills.”

“It’s what I saw as someone who was in the industry for 20 years and who worked on a lot of industry committees — committees of America’s Health Insurance Plans in particular,” Potter said.

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