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The Midmorning Refill: Insurance companies spent big to derail Obama's health reforms

Today’s Flickr photo

Climate Change
Mensah Adrihor of Azizakpe standing on the site of his former home. Flickr photo by One.org.

If you read one thing today . . .

Not that this should surprise anyone but Bloomberg’s Drew Armstrong reports that the insurance industry gave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce $86 million in 2009 to lobby against President Obama’s health care package. If you recall that’s the same industry that Obama touted as having bought into the early version of his plan.

The insurance lobby, whose members include Minnetonka, Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Philadelphia-based Cigna Corp., gave the money to the Chamber in 2009 as Democrats were increasing their criticism of the industry, according to one person who requested anonymity because laws don’t require identifying funding sources. The Chamber of Commerce received the money from the Washington-based America’s Health Insurance Plans when the industry was urging Congress to drop a plan to create a competing public insurance option.

The spending 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 spending.


The White House’s relationship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? As the HuffPo’s Sam Stein puts it: It’s complicated. Despite the bloodsport of the midterm elections, the Obama administration is keeping the lines of communications open with the industry lobby group.

“People in this administration talk to [Chamber CEO Tom Donohue],” White House senior adviser David Axelrod told the Huffington Post in an interview last week. “People in the administration talk to other members of the board. We have good relations with some members; some are hostile. But what we need to do is pursue a pro-growth agenda. We may differ on some issues and they will make their political decisions in the future. But we are going to work individually with businesses wherever we can to help grow jobs and prosperity.”