Federal Politics

Published — July 26, 2010 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Aetna, Humana, other insurers mull new group to influence November races

Introduction

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. Two lobbying sources familiar with talks underway by high-level insurance executives say that a decision to go forward with such an effort is likely to be made by at least four of the insurers—and possibly Cigna – in coming weeks.

The two sources tell the Center for Public Integrity they expect millions of dollars will be pumped into issue advertising in a number of races where candidates sympathetic to health industry concerns have a shot at winning.

“The objective is to make the House more accommodating to concerns that have been raised,” says one industry source. “They’re looking at toss-up candidates,” adding that the companies want to “focus resources to influence campaigns.”

Representatives of Aetna, Cigna, Humana, United HealthCare, and WellPoint could not be immediately reached for comment.

Focus on close contests

Overall, the insurers are expected to focus on swaying about two dozen close House contests, says one source.

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.

For instance, WellPoint wants to allow the inclusion of the costs incurred when it checks out the credentials of physicians in its networks. WellPoint runs Blue Cross plans in over a dozen states.

Insurers are concerned about the new regulations because the new law mandates consumer refunds if the companies’ administrative costs are excessive.

Health Care for America Now, a coalition of consumer groups that backs the new law, last week issued a study which indicated that if the six biggest for-profit insurers were required to meet the new legal standards in 2009, they would have been obligated to pay a total refund of $1.9 billion.

Although details of the insurers’ plans are still being fine tuned, they are said to be looking at the option of setting up a 501(c) (4) group — which can accept unlimited funds from corporate donors — to run the effort, which is expected to include sizable television issue advertising.

One source says that lawyers with Alston & Bird are providing advice about creating a 501(c) (4) group, which is legally allowed to engage in lobbying and election-related work, although the latter has to be less than a majority of its activities. Donors to this type of nonprofit don’t have to be publicly disclosed. Law firm representatives were not immediately available for comment.

Further, a source says that the insurers are eyeing the possibility of working with a think tank to provide research for the issue advocacy efforts. Detailed research could be important to the companies since the new drive will also try to improve the health insurance industry’s public image after the beating it took during a year-long fight over health care legislation.

During last year’s contentious health care debate in Congress, these same five insurers — teamed up to channel between $10 million and $20 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to underwrite a negative advertising drive to block the legislation.

In that earlier and abortive ad effort, the insurers funneled the funds through their industry trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, to keep a low profile and avoid publicity.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT