Health Care Entries

Ryan's Plan Unpopular With Voters, Not With Industry

Paul Ryan speaking at CPAC 2011. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr)Paul Ryan's budget plan may have spooked both moderate Democrats and Republicans with its steep Medicare cuts. The Senate rejected the plan just last week.

But while the House Budget Committee Chairman's proposed voucherization turned off many of his constituents and fellow lawmakers, it didn't staunch the money flowing in from industry donors.

Ryan, R-Wis., received tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions from corporate interests while he was drafting his proposal, Federal Election Commission records show.

More Questions Than Answers One Year After Health Reform

One of many signs held high at a rally for health care reform in Seattle in May 2009. The Affordable Care Act had not passed yet. (seiuhealthcare775nw/Flickr)Health care is one of the most important issues for seniors. After all, older people tend to have more expensive illnesses, more pre-existing conditions, and often have to pay more for insurance. So it should come as no surprise that AARP, with more than half of its members under 65 and not yet eligible for Medicare, is one of the largest supporters of health care reform.

In 2009 the organization hired more than 50 lobbyists to push for the passage of the Affordable Care Act, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

The bill passed and was signed into law in March of last year. Those in Congress opposed to what they call ObamaCare immediately vowed to repeal it, but that's no longer the main concern for AARP.

Will Revolving Door Staffers Impact Planned Parenthood Funding?

(Ennuipoet/Flickr)With its federal funding already threatened and congressional budget negotiations still under way, Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides health care and abortions at reduced prices, faces an uncertain future.

The organization came under fire last month with a House budget proposal that would have withdrawn its federal funding. Although the Senate defeated the resolution on March 9, Congress may press forward with the issue in the next version of the budget.

"We've gained a lot of momentum. We expect that in whatever budget measure comes up next, defunding Planned Parenthood will be in it," said Wendy Wright, CEO of Concerned Women for America, a socially conservative organization that has been lobbying for federal defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Wright has at least one reason to be optimistic. Michael Schwartz, the former head of government relations at Concerned Women now serves as the chief of staff to Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. Although he hasn't yet taken sides in the current budget battle, Coburn is a staunch conservative who serves as one of the "Gang of Six," a group of Democratic and Republican senators who are involved in long-term budget negotiations. Coburn is also an influential Republican and member of the Senate Finance Committee who many Washington observers say has significant sway within his party leadership.

Yoder Quick To Get Down With Oil and Health Insurance

Rep. Kevin Yoder advocates for smaller government and less taxes. (Courtesy of Roll Call)Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., reports a net worth below zero, making him one of the poorest members of Congress, yet he still managed to score a prized seat on the Appropriations Committee.

How did he get that gig?

By Election Day in 2010, Yoder's fundraising total amounted to nearly $2 million, more than twice that of his opponent, Stephene Ann Moore. Moore's husband, Democrat Dennis Moore, had triggered the open seat race when he decided not to run for a seventh term.

Yoder won the seat, and while most representatives wait their turn for a spot on one of the most sought-after congressional committees, Yoder forged ahead by proving he knows how to get cash fast — particularly from big-bucks industries like pharmaceuticals and oil and gas.

Giving money to a campaign does not equal outright vote-buying, of course, but Yoder's agenda does appear to be closely in line with that of his biggest contributors.

Anthem To Raise Premiums While Making Huge Profits

Graphic: Jessica PorterAnthem Blue Cross spent $2 million lobbying the California legislature and another $1.6 million on campaign contributions between 2009 and 2010. It lobbied the Department of Managed Health Care, the Department of Insurance and the Governor's office regarding health insurance regulations.

In particular, Anthem spent a significant amount of time lobbying against SB1163, a piece of legislation that gave the state the power to review premium increases.

So what, you say? Anthem is planning to raise its premiums almost 15 percent for more than 150,000 of its members.

Why Do Oil And Gas Interests Oppose Healthcare Reform?

Ever since the healthcare reform bill was passed last spring, conservatives have vowed to undo the law, and it has turned out to be a classic case of strange bedfellows looking for strength in numbers.

Last month, House Republicans pushed through a largely ceremonial repeal bid, which never made it through the Senate. The individual mandate has been highly contested in courts, with judges across the country in dispute about the mandate's constitutionality. Now, some states, Florida in particular, are eagerly claiming that they can exempt themselves from enacting the law.

With all the invective floating around about the healthcare reform law, it can be hard to remember who was behind — and against — the law to begin with. There are the obvious opponents — the pharmaceutical manufacturers, HMOs and insurance companies. But when you follow the money behind the original opposition to healthcare reform, you find it's not the interest groups you'd think it would be.