During this year’s first Democrat Presidential debate, Hillary Clinton said that she was proud to be enemies with “health insurance companies” – putting the insurance industry alongside the NRA, Iran and Republicans on her enemies list. That might be news to Clinton’s campaign staff, which according to Politico Pro, recently held two high-level meetings with the insurance industry to hear – and presumably allay – any concerns they have:
“Top Hillary Clinton staffers are hosting insurance executives at the campaign’s Brooklyn headquarters this week, coming face-to-face with an industry that Clinton ranked among her top ‘enemies’ during the first Democratic debate.”
In the first meeting, “top Hillary Clinton staffers” hosted Marilyn Tavenner, the chief executive of the insurance industry’s trade association, AHIP, at Clinton’s Brooklyn campaign offices. Tavenner is part of Washington, D.C.’s revolving door; prior to her job at AHIP, she was the Obama Administration’s administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). At CMS, she was “in charge” of Healthcare.gov.
In the second meeting, the campaign met with executives from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, whose subsidiaries frequently appear as top donors to Clinton’s campaigns and the Clinton Foundation. In fact, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina alone donated between $1 and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. Another $1 to $5 million came from Humana, another large insurance company.
Adding up Clinton’s campaign contributions, insurance companies have poured millions into her various campaigns. U.S. News crunched the numbers:
“The insurance industry – which includes health insurers and also car, life and property insurance – donated $1,260,400 to her 2008 campaign, making her the third-highest recipient of cash from the industry that year and also in 2006, when she raised $397,110 for her reelection to the Senate. During her first bid for the Senate in 2000, she raised $167,550 from the industry.
She was the second-highest recipient of cash in 2008 from the health services sector and HMOs, receiving $636,670, and the highest earner in 2006, at $183,770. In 2000, she raised $70,575.”
Why did Clinton’s campaign meet with big insurance? Both Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s largest member company, and Humana are trying to consolidate with two other mega insurance companies, Cigna and Aetna, respectively. The combined total for these deals is in excess of $90 billion. So what’s a few million in campaign contributions?
Of course, these mergers will help insurance companies to squeeze even more profits out of their customers, who have suffered higher premiums along with less choice. The Center for Public Integrity outlined ObamaCare’s results:
“Among those who apparently have not yet benefited much at all, at least so far, are owners of small businesses who would like to keep offering coverage to their employees but can no longer afford it. They can’t afford it because insurers keep jacking their rates up so high every year that more and more of them are dropping employee health benefits altogether.
And let’s be clear, these insurers aren’t suffering. UnitedHealth Group, the largest health insurer, reported last week that it made $10.3 billion in profits in 2014 on revenues of $130.5 billion. Both profits and revenues grew seven percent from 2013.”
Yes, that’s the same UnitedHealth Group that is threatening to pull out of ObamaCare because it “loses hundreds of millions of dollars on the program.” Maybe that’s why Tavenner told the New York Times that lobbying for health insurance companies was “a great opportunity.”
According to The Hill, Clinton also has ties to another AHIP executive – Mary Beth Donahue, who served as a senior official in the Clinton Administration in the 1990s. Donahue, an executive vice president, as well as “several” other “high-ranking” AHIP officials are in “close contact with the White House and HHS.”
With enemies like Big Insurance, Hillary Clinton doesn’t need any friends.
Image Credit: YouTube – First Democratic Presidential Debate 2016 by CNN 10-13-2015 – FULL