Newt Gingrich routinely lobbied Congress for initiatives that expanded the government’s role in health care and benefited companies associated with the the Center for Health Transformation, the New York Times reports. Before he decided to run for president and rebranded himself as a free-market pioneer, Gingrich advocated for expansion of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, renewal of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), greater government investment in electronic health records and comparative effectiveness research. At the time, “his center was being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by major drug makers and insurers” and “clients with an interest in building a national electronic health records system.”
In May of 2009, as the House and Senate worked on early drafts of the Affordable Care Act, Gingrich, along with his Center, spoke out in favor of the provision in a conference call:
“We believe there should be must-carry; that is, everybody should have health insurance, or if you’re an absolute libertarian, we would allow you to post a bond.”
As Lee Fang has reported, CHT serves approximately 94 health industry corporations and lobby groups, including health insurance (BlueCross BlueShield Association, WellPoint, AHIP, UnitedHealth), health IT (L-3 Enterprise, Microsoft, IBM), and pharmaceutical companies — with each paying up to $200,000 annually.
Incidentally, as Gingrich pushed for increases in government spending — something he now opposes — he enveloped his proposals in small-government conservative rhetoric. For instance, while urging conservative Republicans to approve the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act, an unfunded expansion of Medicare that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) now project that the program will cost the government $16.1 trillion “through the infinite horizon,” the former House Speaker said: “if you are a fiscal conservative who cares about balancing the federal budget, there may be no more important vote in your career than one in support of this bill.”