Insurance giant Aetna was one of the companies publicly amenable to President Obama’s health care reform law while it was being debated. In fact, just recently the company’s CEO praised the law. And just last week, the group announced that they’d keep some provisions in place even if the law gets repealed by the Supreme Court.
But, it turns out, Aetna wasn’t always such a staunch supporter of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): During the debate over the bill, the insurance company gave over $7 million to two groups fighting tooth and nail against the legislation.
Aetna did not intentionally reveal their donations to the two organizations — the Chamber of Commerce and the American Action Network — intentionally. Rather, it was a slip in how they filed their disclosure forms:
Documents obtained and distributed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington show that Aetna made a $3 million donation to the American Action Network and a $4.05 million donation to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2011.
Aetna made the disclosure in a year-end regulatory filing with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, an organization that sets insurance industry standards and provides regulatory support. [...]
“I think Aetna screwed up. I don’t think they needed to disclose this,” said Melanie Sloan, the executive director of CREW, an advocacy group that opposes corporate political spending.
Aetna provided CNNMoney with a letter from CEO Mark Bertolini that acknowledged donations to the groups, but claimed the funds were meant for educational purposes.
While Aetna may claim it used the money for educational purposes, there are certainly reasons to believe the group would have fought against certain provisions in the law. Insurance groups have a stake in changing taxes for their industry, raising rates on young people, and opening up exchange pools to private business. These provisions easily could have been the target of money donated to anti-ACA groups by insurers.