See, things like this are what convinces me that the netroots would be better off lobbying the system than backing progressive candidates — since so many of them don’t stay progressive in the face of this corrupt system. I’m a big believer in working with what actually exists, and not what we wish it would be. Work to change it, sure — but work it in the meantime:
Five of the nation’s largest health insurers are in serious discussions about creating a new nonprofit group and bankrolling it to the tune of about $20 million to influence tight congressional races and boost the image of their industry.
Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp., Humana Inc., United HealthCare Inc. and WellPoint Inc. are weighing the new drive in part to shape the government regulations that will implement this year’s sweeping new health care legislation. Two lobbying sources familiar with talks underway by high-level insurance executives say that a decision to go forward with such an effort is likely to be made by at least four of the insurers—and possibly Cigna – in coming weeks.
The two sources tell the Center for Public Integrity they expect millions of dollars will be pumped into issue advertising in a number of races where candidates sympathetic to health industry concerns have a shot at winning.
“The objective is to make the House more accommodating to concerns that have been raised,” says one industry source. “They’re looking at toss-up candidates,” adding that the companies want to “focus resources to influence campaigns.”
Representatives of Aetna, Cigna, Humana, United HealthCare, and WellPoint could not be immediately reached for comment.
Overall, the insurers are expected to focus on swaying about two dozen close House contests, says one source.
The insurers’ goal will be to help elect members who can be allies in the all important regulatory writing process now underway to implement key parts of the health care legislation that was signed into law earlier this year.
The sources stress that insurers are particularly concerned at this stage about a provision in the new law that mandates they spend 80 cents of every premium dollar received on the welfare of patients. The high financial stakes mean insurers have been pushing hard with state regulators to allow for broader definitions of what constitutes patient welfare expenditures. This issue is “probably the most important one right now,” explains a source.
It depresses me that this crappy healthcare bill, as imperfect as it is, will be torn apart by this pack of wolves until there’s nothing left but bones. But hey, victory!