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How the health insurance industry killed health reform

From TP:

This morning, Bloomberg reporter Drew Armstrong broke an incredible story revealing that health insurance companies, like UnitedHealth and CIGNA, funneled $86.2 million into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2009 to pay for the Chamber’s multifaceted campaign to kill President Obama’s health reform legislation. In January of this year, the National Journal’s Peter Stone reported that insurers had pumped $20 million into the Chamber for its anti-health reform campaign. Armstrong’s report exposes the true extent to which insurers worked to fool the public and defeat health reform. However, the report also poses new questions about the role of insurance companies in the health reform debate.

Why did insurance companies try to hide their donations to the Chamber’s anti-health reform campaign? Given their own unpopularity and Obama’s pledge to be the first leader to successfully reform America’s broken health system, the health insurance industry hatched a plan to fundamentally deceive the public, the press, and politicians. Instead of fighting reform tooth and nail, the insurance industry worked to manipulate the process and ultimately kill reforms by adopting what ThinkProgress termed “The Duplicitous Campaign.” In public, health insurance lobbyists and executives promised to support reform and work closely with reform advocates. The top health insurance lobbyist, Karen Ignagni, went to the White House early in the reform debate and promised Obama, “You have our commitment to play, to contribute and to help pass health-care reform this year.”

In private, the health insurance industry worked with conservative think tanks and media, right-wing front groups, and highly ideological trade associations like the National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber to kill the bill. By using third party groups and ideological cover, the health insurance industry sought to trick Americans into hating reform. In September of 2009, while many in the media still believed insurance executives were honestly supporting reform, ThinkProgress released a report detailing the ways in which the health insurance industry secretly worked to undermine the process and poison public opinion (read it here). We also produced a video with health insurance whistle-blower Wendell Potter, who explained how insurers control the debate to defeat reform:

By |2010-11-17T14:29:12-04:00November 17th, 2010|Healthcare|Comments Off on How the health insurance industry killed health reform

Another Bad Day for Senator McCain

As I noted in previous posts, last week was really bad for Senator John McCain, BUT that appears to be nothing compared to the way that this week has started off.

Former Texas Senator and presidential hopeful, Phil Gramm is a lobbyist for UBS as well as an economic adviser under McCain. Gramm is credited with the deregulation “reform” which may have led to the current subprime mortgage crisis.


Below I noted MSNBC’s story tonight about how former Senator Phil Gramm (McCain’s economics advisor) was advising him on his subprime mortgage bailout policy while Gramm was also a registered lobbyist for the Swiss bank UBS.

Now, it’s clear from the report that UBS had some exposure on the subprime front. But I wasn’t aware of the true extent of it. TPM Reader KB sends in articles Businessweek and Forbes that show just how big a player UBS was. Forbes says that UBS is among the banks hit worst by the global credit crisis, particularly in their direct exposure to the US subprime market. According to Forbes, UBS has some $37 billion in write-downs on assets tied to bad U.S. mortgages. In other words, the bank’s very life appears to be on the line with regards to how the U.S. government chooses to handle the matter.

As MSNBC reported, UBS deregistered Gramm as a lobbyist for the company on April 18th, though he continues to serve as a vice chairman of the bank. But that was fully a month after McCain’s speech outlining his own approach to the crisis.

By |2008-05-28T01:25:51-04:00May 28th, 2008|Countdown, Election 2008, Ethics|Comments Off on Another Bad Day for Senator McCain
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