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Rick Santorum Defends Connections To Health Care Industry: ‘You Know, I Have To Work!’

By Igor Volsky on January 6, 2012 at 10:47 am

"Rick Santorum Defends Connections To Health Care Industry: ‘You Know, I Have To Work!’"

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The health care industry is donating heavily to Rick Santorum’s surging presidential campaign, as the former Pennsylvania senator implores voters to “trust” private health insurance companies to lower health care costs and touts his record of supporting greater privatization of Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, Santorum is now “getting a second look by many after his virtual tie with GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses” and has raised $21,000 from top executives of BlueCross in South Carolina alone:

In total, a dozen BlueCross executives and their wives donated to Santorum, according to the federal data. A review of other GOP candidates’ disclosures did not find similarly sized donations.

The $21,000 in donations from BlueCross executives to Santorum — all given between late June and September — come from the company’s top brass. The donations included $2,500 from the company’s president and chief executive David Pankau and $2,000 from retired CEO and current board chairman Ed Sellers.

The support is not surprising. Santorum advocates for policies that would allow companies to avoid state-based consumer protection laws and sell coverage to the healthiest — and most profitable — beneficiaries, supports high-deductible insurance plans, health savings accounts, and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The industry has returned the favor by donating some $3 million dollars to his Congressional campaigns and rewarding him with consultant and lobbying jobs in his post-Congressional career.

While in the Senate, Santorum also “sponsored at least two Senate bills and pushed to amend a mammoth Medicare overhaul” to include the extra spending that benefited “Universal Health Services, a Pennsylvania-based hospital management company.” After leaving Congress, “Santorum joined the board of Universal Health Services, where he collected $395,000 in director’s fees and stock options before resigning last year.”

Asked about the apparent conflict of interest during an appearance on the Laura Ingraham show this morning, Santorum said, “I was on the board of a public company that because of my work on health care.” “I’m very proud of that work, I’m very proud of the company. You know, I have to work!” Listen:

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