OK

A few more data points on the cost of the healthcare reform debate. To say that they are obscene is really understating the case, particularly since so much of the fight over reform swirls around now much it costs.

First and foremost, what's going into the policy-makers' coffers from the industry:

During the first half of 2009, health industry groups contributed almost $1.8 million to 18 lawmakers overseeing the House side of the action on an overhaul bill.

For 15 of the 18 congressional leaders, health-care-related PACs accounted for the largest or second-largest contributions each lawmaker received from any industry during the first six months of 2009, a CQ MoneyLine analysis of campaign finance reports shows....

Leading this year’s contributions from PACs representing a range of health care companies and professional associations were donations from doctors, who gave the top leaders $426,150 in the first six months. Pharmaceutical manufacturers gave $352,500, and hospitals followed with $134,800 in donations over the same period, the analysis shows.

That's both sides of the aisle, by the way, because both sides are taking every advantage of every month this process drags out. It's a gravy train for them, with industry pouring in all the money they can while they think (ok, know) it will make a difference. But some of it is slightly more targeted:

House Republican Leaders John Boehner (Ohio) and Eric Cantor (Va.) have taken roughly $60,000 from the health insurance company that owns the research firm the Lewin Group, regularly cited by opponents of health care reform, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Cantor, meanwhile, recently urged his Republican colleagues, at the top of a summer-strategy memo, to refer voters to an "[i]ndependent analysis by the Lewin Group" that makes that case that giving Americans a public health care option would cause more than 100 million people to lose their current coverage....

Boehner and his leadership PAC have taken in $29,125 and Cantor and his PAC have gotten $28,000 from UnitedHealth's political action committee, not including what they've also gotten from the company's executives and employees.

Insurance companies can certainly afford to fight reform, with their "astronomical" profits.

The top five earning insurance companies averaged profits of $1.56 billion in 2008 and reported spending an average of "more than 18 percent of their revenues on marketing, administration, and profits." That year, CEO compensation for these companies ranged from$3 million to $24 million.

All this allowed them to spend more as much as $1.4 million A DAY lobbying against reform during the January to March reporting period, and we're like to find out in the next day or two how much more was spent in the April-July quarter.

No wonder AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignani has completely rejected any form of competition in a plan, even Kent Conrad's watered down "compromise" of co-ops, that great plan that's supposed to bring in Republicans to support the Finance Baucus Committee plan. With this kind of money at stake, competition is the last thing these free-market Republicans want.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 07:48 AM PDT.

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