Report: Insurers secretly funded ads attacking health reform

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Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc. and its health insurance peers contributed as much as $20 million toward TV ads that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ran attacking the health care reform proposals pending in Congress, according to a story posted Tuesday night on NationalJournal.com.

The magazine's story cites two unnamed lobbyists who said the trade group America’s Health Insurance Plan funneled the money to the Chamber, beginning about the same time the industry’s dealings with the Obama administration and congressional Democrats soured.

The story did not specify how much each insurer gave, but said AHIP members Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser and UnitedHealth joined WellPoint in contributing. Funds totaling between $10 million and $20 million were raised, beginning in September and running through December.

During that time, health insurers still voiced support for reform but voiced more active criticism of some provisions of the bills.

Lobbyists told the National Journal that health insurers wanted to avoid the obstructionist image the industry received after its “Harry and Louise” campaign helped to kill President Bill Clinton’s health reform plan in 1994.


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