The health insurance industry presented itself as a key ally of President Barack Obama’s health care law while at the same time making hefty contributions to members of Congress who are trying to get rid of it, according to contribution records.
Between January of 2007 and August of 2012, the political action committees of the 11 largest health insurance companies and their primary trade group gave $10.2 million to federal politicians with nearly two-thirds of the total going to Republicans who oppose the law or support its repeal, according to the Center for Public Integrity’s analysis of Federal Election Commission filings.
The 11 top companies, according to the Fortune 500 list, controlled 35 percent of the industry in 2011, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The top industry trade group is America’s Health Insurance Plans.
Much of the money rolled in as health insurance industry leaders lauded the Democrats’ reform efforts.
“We are ready to be accountable to these [new] rules,” Karen Ignagni, AHIP’s president and CEO told the Senate Finance Committee in May 2009, almost a year before Obama’s landmark legislation was signed into law. And a month after Obama’s Affordable Care Act became law in March 2010, Ignagni said her organization was “strongly committed” to [its] “successful implementation.”
Likewise, Ron Williams, then chairman and CEO of Aetna, the country’s fifth-largest health insurance company, also spoke favorably about the bill — at first.
“I believe that President Obama and this Congress have charted a course of change,” Williams said in a June 2009 statement. “I want to make clear that we too are committed to expanding access, controlling costs and improving the quality and value of care people receive.”