As the Supreme Court readies to announce their decision on the individual mandate portion of the health reform, it has emerged that the largest health care lobbying group in the country spent a total of $102.4 million in just 15 months to prevent Obamacare from becoming law in the first place.
In 2009 alone, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) pumped $86.2 million into a conservative lobbying group, the US Chamber of Commerce, to combat President Obama’s health care reform plan. But with the added months of 2010 prior to the ACA’s March passage, AHIP piled on an additional $16 million to be used against the bill.
That staggering total, which the National Journal’s Influence Alley uncovered today, was not out in the open — rather, the funds were transferred through a secretive process and listed only by the organization as ‘advocacy’ spending:
The backchannel spending allowed insurers to publicly stake out a pro-reform position while privately funding the leading anti-reform lobbying group in Washington. The chamber spent tens of millions of dollars bankrolling efforts to kill health care reform.
The behind-the-scenes transfers were particularly hard to track because the law does not require groups to publicly disclose where they are sending the money or who they are receiving it from. […]
The next year followed a similar pattern. In 2010, AHIP reported giving $16.5 million to unnamed advocacy organizations working on health care reform and the chamber reported receiving about $16.2 million from an undisclosed source, which the Alley has learned was AHIP. The $16.2 million accounted for about 8.6 percent of the total contributions and grants the chamber received that year.
This funneling scheme allowed health groups like AHIP to save face no matter whether the bill passed or not — if the bill failed, the groups figured, they would be able to point to their lobbying efforts against it. When it succeeded, AHIP and others remained quiet about any efforts against the legislation.
With the ruling coming down in the coming weeks from the Supreme Court, and with all the money spent to defeat the law, AHIP may be all to happy if it’s overturned.
According to US Chamber Watch, athough AHIP only made contributions to the Chamber of Commerce during the first three months of 2010, it was still the single largest funder of the group for all of that year.