Lawrence, KS - Events Local News Groups Contact
The Health Insurance Industry's Sway Over Obama's Point Man on Health Care Reform
By Indy Media / filmsforaction.org
By Mike Dennison of The Montana Standard
http://www.mtstandard.com

HELENA — As Sen. Max Baucus has taken the lead on health-reform legislation in the U.S. Senate, he's also become a leader in something else: Campaign money received from health- and insurance-industry interests.

In the past six years, nearly one-fourth of every dime raised by Baucus, D-Mont., and his political-action committee has come from groups and individuals associated with drug companies, insurers, hospitals, medical-supply firms, health-service companies and other health professionals.

These donations total about $3.4 million, or $1,500 a day, every day, from January 2003 through 2008.

Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee that is drafting a major health-care reform bill this month, insists this cavalcade of money is not unduly influencing his work.

Yet some reform activists and others who watch the political system say it's foolish to think this money doesn't hold some sway.

"When you spend so much of your time raising money, as members of Congress do, from those who have a compelling interest in the outcome of legislation, it has to change what you think about it, and the viewpoints that you have," says David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch, a Washington, D.C., group that tracks money in politics. "It's just human nature. ... and members of Congress are human." Advocates of national, public health insurance for all — a proposal largely excluded from the health-reform debate — say their exclusion points to the power of moneyed interests in Congress.

"I'm convinced that this (money) has a profound influence," says Quentin Young, national coordinator for Physicians for a National Health Program. "Otherwise, how could Baucus, an otherwise respected and wise politician, say categorically that single-payer (national health insurance) is off the table?" Since 2003, perhaps no other member of Congress has received more money from health and insurance interests than Baucus. Only his Republican counterpart on the Finance Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, rivals him in terms of percentage of funds from these business sectors.



From Bill Moyers Journal


The Lee Newspapers State Bureau examined fundraising data for Baucus, Grassley, Sen. Ted Kennedy (who chairs the Senate Health Committee, which is drafting health-reform legislation), the other two members of Montana's congressional delegation, and President Barack Obama.

The data are compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit group that tracks and sorts campaign donors by profession and industry. Here's a summary of what the State Bureau discovered:

• From 2003-2008, the Baucus campaign and his Glacier PAC, which raises money and distributes it to other candidates, received 23 percent of their $14.8 million from health-care and insurance interests.

•The $3.4 million from these sectors includes $853,000 from pharmaceutical and health-products, $851,000 from health professionals; $467,000 from hospitals and nursing homes, $466,000 from health-service and HMO interests, and $784,000 from insurance.

The insurance-sector money includes donations from all types of insurance-company interests, including health insurance.

• Five of the top 10 specific donor sources for Baucus were drug companies, health insurers or health-related firms. For example, employees of Schering-Plough Corp., a major drug firm, gave him $92,000 over the period, more than any other single source.

• Grassley, the highest-ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, received 23.5 percent of his funds from health and insurance interests, but a lesser dollar amount than Baucus ($2.3 million out of $9.8 million total funds).

• Sen. Kennedy, D-Mass, a longtime advocate of health-care reforms, received only 7.5 percent of his funds from health and insurance interests, or about $1.2 million.

• Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., had minimal contributions from the health and insurance sectors.

• President Obama, whose campaign raised a whopping $745 million in 2007 and 2008, received a relatively small share from health-care interests ($19 million, or 2.5 percent) and insurance interests ($2 million, or 0.3 percent).

Baucus has been leading the charge on health-care reform in the U.S. Senate since early 2008, holding numerous hearings and Finance Committee meetings on the issue. He released a lengthy "white paper" last November, outlining his reform ideas, and a major bill is expected to be introduced this month.

The general thrust of his proposals is to require all citizens to buy health insurance, while also forcing the private insurance industry to stop practices that make coverage unaffordable for many. He supports subsidies to those who may have trouble affording insurance.

However, on a reform bitterly opposed by the insurance industry and most health-care interests — a public, nonprofit insurance plan offered by the government — Baucus has been more ambivalent, saying he supports the idea, but declining to say in what form.

Baucus's office supplied nearly 20 examples of stances he's taken in direct opposition to drug, insurance and banking interests that have donated to his campaign funds.

For example, he has supported importing lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada, allowing the government to negotiate for lower drug prices for Medicare recipients, funding research that would show when generic drugs are a better deal than brand-name drugs and reducing Medicare payments to private insurers by $13 billion over five years.

His office also points to an April 2007 Wall Street Journal article in which Baucus was quoted as telling medical-industry contributors at a fundraiser that "You should worry about me coming after you." Donnelly, the Campaign Money Watch director, says the proof on health-care reform will be in the final product — and that he's not terribly optimistic.

Health and insurance interests are clearly targeting Baucus and his Finance Committee, which often have shown themselves to be receptive to their influence, he says.

"This debate on health care is a microcosm ... that even after a ‘change' election, how much the special interests view (Washington) as their fiefdom," Donnelly says.

Supporters of national health insurance are even less optimistic, noting how Baucus, President Obama and leaders in Congress won't even consider their proposal, which they believe would have broad public support.

"I can't think of any reason other than fidelity to your donors, to explain why they would keep us out of the debate," says Dr. Young of the physicians group. "Until we get campaign-finance reform, it will be very difficult to do anything to challenge the status quo (in health care), and the status quo had better be challenged, because it's a very bad status quo."

Source: http://www.mtstandard.com/articles/2009/06/14/state/hjjajdifjijigd.txt
0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
18 Empowering Illustrations to Remind Everyone Who's Really in Charge of Women's Bodies
Julianne Ross · 16,105 views today · When Brazilian graphic designer Carol Rossetti began posting colorful illustrations of women and their stories to Facebook, she had no idea how popular they would...
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 13,209 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure
Daniel Quinn · 8,415 views today · PART ONE A fable to start with Once upon a time life evolved on a certain planet, bringing forth many different social organizations—packs, pods, flocks, troops, herds, and...
Lawns Are for Suckers. Plant a Garden - for the Climate!
Nathanael Johnson · 3,807 views today · Ripping out your lawn and planting kale and peppers won’t just lead to great stir-fry — a new study finds it could make major contributions to fighting climate change...
You Should Get Naked More Often. It's Good for You.
Joni Sweet · 2,509 views today · When Nelly encouraged overheated people worldwide to get naked in 2002, he was unknowingly advocating much more than just a sexy, sweaty dance party. Sunbathing, sleeping...
How Native Americans Managed "Wild" Land Long Before Settlers
Sami Grover · 2,102 views today · When European settlers first came to North America, they assumed they were looking at "untouched" nature. Sure, there were native peoples, but history tells us they didn't...
Solidarity Is About What You Do - Not Who You Are.
R.L. Stephens · 1,833 views today · I am Black. I capitalize Black and leave white lowercased. Sure, it’s the accepted spelling, but really I do it because it feels good. My family lived in Missouri, but my...
A New Story for Humanity (2016)
102 min · 1,356 views today · Inspired by the New Story Summit at the Findhorn Foundation: a sold-out multicultural, multigenerational inquiry into a new story for humanity, attended by change makers and...
Bioregional Quiz: How Well Do You Know the Place in Which You Live?
Rua Lupa · 1,342 views today · In the vast emptiness of space there are an unimaginable number of galaxies, each galaxy containing billions upon billions of stars. Looking at one galaxy we find an average...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,301 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Gabor Maté: Why Our Culture Makes So Many Of Us Unhappy
3 min · 984 views today · Dr. Gabor Maté explains why it is that our culture makes so many of us unhappy, unkind to one another, miserable, alienated from ourselves, etc. Watch the full interview in Part 2.
Masculinity Is Killing Men: The Roots of Men and Trauma
Kali Holloway · 831 views today · We begin the damaging process of turning boys into men long before boyhood ends.
Why You Should Take Your Kids Out of School
Ben Hewitt · 713 views today · We don't need no education. At least not of the traditional, compulsory, watch-the-clock-until-the-bell-rings kind. As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet...
It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are
Mark Wolynn · 629 views today · The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 621 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 609 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Why People's Opinions of You Aren't Real
4 min · 517 views today · "You are what you love and not what loves you." - From Charlie Kaufman's film "Adaptation"
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 500 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 481 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
How Stress Affects Your Brain
4 min · 457 views today · Stress isn’t always a bad thing; it can be handy for a burst of extra energy and focus, like when you’re playing a competitive sport or have to speak in public. But when it’s...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
The Health Insurance Industry's Sway Over Obama's Point Man on Health Care Reform