Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Insurance Companies Spend $700,000 a Day on Lobbying

In case you needed more proof that the insurance companies need to bring a lot more to the table, a watchdog group has just released a study that shows gives us a reminder of what the insurance companies have been up to recently. At the same time that hard working families are going bankrupt due to the enormous costs of health care (even if they do have insurance), the insurance companies and HMO's are spending $700,000 a day in order to pay just under 2,000 lobbyists to encourage Congress not to pass health care reform.
A campaign finance watchdog’s analysis of insurance and HMO political contributions and lobbying expenses found the industries spent $126,430,438 over the first half of 2009 and $585,725,712 over the past two and a half years to influence public policy and elected officials. The group, Public Campaign Action Fund, found that in the first part of 2009, the industries were spending money at nearly a $700,000 a day clip to influence the political process and that the monthly pace of political spending this year has increased by nearly $400,000 over the average spent per month in the previous two years.
There are 535 Members of Congress (100 in the Senate, 435 in the House) and there are 1,795 lobbyists who are registered to represent the health care industry. This means that there are 3.35 anti-reform lobbyists per Member of Congress, many of whom are trying to argue that a public option would actually drive the private insurance companies out of business. I suppose that they are deciding to ignore the fact that if the insurance companies didn't do some much overkill with their lobbying expenses then they'd actually increase their ability to compete with a public option.

Since so many of these companies train their employees to put profits above people's health, however, we shouldn't be surprised that they're willing to spending $700,000 a day on fighting plans that would ensure everyone has access to affordable health care. Nonetheless, I still think it serves as a prime example of what is wrong with the health care system that we have in place today.

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