America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the nation’s largest health insurance industry group, allocated more than $100 million toward the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2009 and 2010 efforts to derail Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), the National Journal’s Influence Alley reports.
AHIP gave the Chamber of Commerce $102.4 million total during the health care debate two years ago, pouring $86.2 million into business lobbying in 2009, and another $16.2 million given immediately before the health bill passed in March, 2010.
The clandestine dealings will not sit well with many set to lose significant benefits should the reform – named Obamacare by some of the President’s opponents – be struck down this month in Supreme Court consideration.
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According to the Influence Alley report, while publicly supporting the law, AHIP was privately funding 42 percent of the anti-Obama Care fund through the Chamber of Commerce.
A link between the two organizations was uncovered in November 2010, when the $86.2 million donation was first discovered. Due to federal reporting policies, which do not require groups to publicly disclose where they are sending or receiving money from, AHIP dismissed the severity of the reports, saying:
“We, like other major stakeholders, invested in advocacy. We supported a number of leading health care advocacy organizations and coalitions that shared our views. While the new law helps millions of people obtain coverage, it fails to bend the health care cost curve. Health plans are committed to working on ways to make coverage more affordable and minimize disruptions for those who are currently insured.”
In 2009 IRS tax filings, AHIP allocated $87 million dollars to unnamed advocacy groups for “grassroots outreach, education and mobilization, print, online, and broadcast advertising and coalition building efforts” on health care reform.
In that same year, the Chamber of Commerce reported an $86 million donation from an undisclosed group.
Filings from 2010 showed similar patterns between the two organizations, with AHIP reporting a $16.2 million donation to an unnamed entity, and the Chamber reporting a $16.2 million increase in funds.
A verbal confirmation on the source of donations was not given by Chamber spokeswoman Blair Latoff, who said only, “We filed our tax returns for calendar year 2010 in November. Schedule B lists all of our contributions, one of which is $16 million dollars from one entity.”
“Clearly the secrecy was important to industry,” Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, said in an interview. “Eighty-six million dollars is an astonishing sum.”
The backdoor dealings of one of the nation’s top insurance industry groups diminishes hope health care reform will continue, as many experts had hoped, regardless of whether or not the ACA passes Supreme Court scrutiny.
While major insurance groups such as UnitedHealth and Aetna have stated they will uphold certain provisions — law or no law — some people in the U.S. might wonder if they, too, are just putting up a front like AHIP.