Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Congresspeople take contributions from the health care/insurance industry, and they invest in the health industry, to an extent you wouldn’t believe

by Larry Geller

No wonder Sen. Max Baucus won’t put single-payer on the table. But read on, it’s not just Baucus.

Now, a new article in the Montana Standard finds Senator Baucus has received more campaign money from health and insurance industry interests than any other member of Congress. The article says, "In the past six years, nearly one-fourth of every dime raised by Baucus and his political-action committee has come from groups and individuals associated with drug companies, insurers, hospitals, medical-supply firms, health-service companies and other health professionals.” [Democracy Now, Report: Senator Max Baucus Received More Campaign Money from Health and Insurance Industry Interests than Any Other Member of Congress, 6/16/2009]

(You can read the transcript, view the video, or listen to the audio at the above link, or catch the program tonight on Oahu at 10 p.m. on channel 56.)

The data are compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit group that tracks and sorts campaign donors by profession and industry. Here's a summary of what the State Bureau discovered:

From 2003 to 2008, the Baucus campaign and his Glacier PAC, which raises money and distributes it to other candidates, received 23 percent of their $14.8 million from health care and insurance interests.

The $3.4 million from these sectors includes $853,000 from pharmaceutical and health products, $851,000 from health professionals, $467,000 from hospitals and nursing homes, $466,000 from health service and HMO interests, and $784,000 from insurance.

The insurance sector money includes donations from all types of insurance company interests, including health insurance.

Five of the top 10 specific donor sources for Baucus were drug companies, health insurers or health-related firms. For example, employees of Schering-Plough Corp., a major drug firm, gave him $92,000 over the period, more than any other single source. [The Billings (Montana) Gazette, Insurance, health interests fill Baucus' coffers, 6/14/2009]

It’s not just Baucus. The article includes a table for several others.

Today’s Democracy Now included a segment in which Amy Goodman reviews not only campaign contributions, but investments held by individual congresspeople. It was shocking to hear. This is a snippet from the segment:

AMY GOODMAN: The Washington Post revealed almost thirty key lawmakers helping draft landmark healthcare legislation have financial holdings in the industry, totaling nearly $11 million worth of personal investments.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has at least $50,000 invested in a healthcare index.

Republican Senator Judd Gregg, a senior member of the Health Committee, has up to $560,000 worth of stock holdings in major healthcare companies, including Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck.

The family of Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman held at least $3.2 million in more than twenty healthcare companies at the end of last year.

Senator Kerry, John Kerry, and his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry hold at least $5.2 million in companies such as Merck and Eli Lilly.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee plans to hold a key hearing today to discuss healthcare reform. On that twenty-two-member panel, at least eight Senators have financial interests in the healthcare industry. The hearings will be held by Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, whose wife serves on the boards of four healthcare companies. She received more than $200,000 in salary and stock from her service last year.

And Republican Senator Johnny Isakson holds at least $165,000 in pharmaceutical and medical stocks.

Democratic Senator Kay Hagan holds at least $180,000 in investments in more than twenty healthcare companies.

Are these folks going to screw themselves financially by hurting medical, insurance or pharmaceutical companies?

So if we didn’t know before, now we know the extent of corruption in our democratic process. If we don’t get affordable healthcare for everyone, it will simply be because politicians are behaving as we expect them to, given their financial interests.

How to change it? First thing, look in the mirror. Seriously.

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves."
--Bertrand de Jouvenel  



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