Without DISCLOSE Act, Health Insurers Wield Influence Freely
Here’s one more reason why a bill like the DISCLOSE Act could carry real weight in this election cycle and beyond. Peter Stone at the Center for Public Integrity reports:
Five of the nation’s largest health insurers are in serious discussions about creating a new nonprofit group and bankrolling it to the tune of about $20 million to influence tight congressional races and boost the image of their industry.
Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp., Humana Inc., United HealthCare Inc. and WellPoint Inc. are weighing the new drive in part to shape the government regulations that will implement this year’s sweeping new health care legislation.
While the immediate goal of the insurers is to influence tight House races, the health insurance giants have a longer term agenda — influencing the regulatory roll-out of the new health insurance reform law during the next congress. Stone, again:
The insurers’ goal will be to help elect members who can be allies in the all important regulatory writing process now underway to implement key parts of the health care legislation that was signed into law earlier this year.
The sources stress that insurers are particularly concerned at this stage about a provision in the new law that mandates they spend 80 cents of every premium dollar received on the welfare of patients. The high financial stakes mean insurers have been pushing hard with state regulators to allow for broader definitions of what constitutes patient welfare expenditures. This issue is “probably the most important one right now,” explains a source.
As an added bonus, the lack of disclosure laws gives the insurers an opening to exercise their influence. By forming a nonprofit group to do political advocacy during the midterm elections, these companies could enact their agenda while keeping their names far from the fray.