Insurers Gave U.S. Chamber $86 Million Used to Oppose Obama's Health Law
By Drew Armstrong - Nov 17, 2010 4:32 PM ET
Health insurers last year gave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce $86.2 million that was used to oppose the health-care overhaul law, according to tax records and people familiar with the donation.
The insurance lobby, whose members include Minnetonka, Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Cigna Corp. of Philadelphia, gave the money to the Chamber in 2009 as Democrats increased criticism of the industry, according to a person who requested anonymity because laws don’t require identifying funding sources. The Chamber got the money from the America’s Health Insurance Plans as the industry urged Congress to drop a plan to create a competing government-run insurance plan.
“Clearly the secrecy was important to industry,” Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, said in an interview. The group tracks money in politics and isn’t affiliated with a political party. “Eighty-six million dollars is an astonishing sum,” she said.
The spending on the Chamber exceeded the insurer group’s entire budget from a year earlier and accounted for 40 percent of the Chamber’s $214.6 million in 2009 expenditures. The spending reflects the insurers’ attempts to influence the bill, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will provide coverage to 32 million previously uninsured Americans, after Democrats in Congress and the White House put more focus on regulation of the insurance industry....
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