Archive for January 14th, 2010

Health Insurers Funded Chamber Attack Ads

National Journal Tuesday, January 12, 2010

By Peter H. Stone

Just as dealings with the Obama administration and congressional Democrats soured last summer, six of the nation’s biggest health insurers began quietly pumping big money into third-party television ads aimed at killing or significantly modifying the major health reform bills moving through Congress.

That money, between $10 million and $20 million, came from Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser Foundation Health Plans, UnitedHealth Group and Wellpoint, according to two health care lobbyists familiar with the transactions.

The companies are all members of the powerful trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans.

The funds were solicited by AHIP and funneled to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help underwrite tens of millions of dollars of television ads by two business coalitions set up and subsidized by the chamber. Each insurer kicked in at least $1 million and some gave multimillion-dollar donations.

“There’s no question that AHIP has quietly solicited monies from their members which were funneled over to the chamber for their ads,” said a source. The total donated by the health insurers, according to one estimate, was as much as one-quarter of the chamber’s total health care advertising budget.

More of the shame

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DAVID M. HERSZENHORN | NYT | January 14, 2010, 12:37 pm

The White House and Congressional leaders have reached a tentative deal on a proposed excise tax on high-cost, employer-sponsored insurance plans to be included in the final version of major health care legislation, according to officials familiar with the talks.

Officials did not immediately provide details of the tentative agreement, but it is expected to include an increase in the thresholds at which policies are hit by the tax.

The Senate bill currently would impose a 40 percent tax on the amount of policies for individuals above $8,500 and family plans above $23,000. (more…)

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