Health Insurers Secretly Funded Attack Ads While Claiming to “Strongly Support Reform”

Health insurers secretly funded attack ads aimed at killing or gutting health care reform even as they publicly claimed to support strong action in Congress, the National Journal reports today.

Since last summer, six of the nation’s biggest health insurers have funneled up to $20 million to the US Chamber of Commerce to fund ads critical of leading Democratic reforms, according to an anonymous lobbyist quoted by the Journal. The money was solicited by the Association of Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s main trade group. The lobbyist said the industry wanted to avoid the political flak that it drew when it aired its famous “Harry and Louise” ads that helped derail Bill Clinton’s health reform plans more than a decade ago.

The revelation paints insurers in a duplicitious light. In October, when AHIP was already funneling attack money to the Chamber, its president, Karen Ingani, penned a letter to the Washington Post claiming that “health plans contine to strongly support reform.” Just not the reform being debated in Congress, it now seems.