The country's largest private health insurer, UnitedHealth Group, is urging its 75,000 employees to phone their senators and write letters-to-the-editor to protest the inclusion of a public health insurance option in health reform legislation. The California-based consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog obtained a copy of an email that United for Health Reform, UnitedHealth Group's lobbying arm, sent to company employees. The letter contained form letters that employees could use to contact newspapers and senators and, according to Consumer Watchdog, offered the same misleading talking points advanced by the Republican Party, like the claim that health insurance reform will cause millions to lose their coverage. Earlier this year, Consumer Watchdog filed a complaint against UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint, another major U.S. insurer, for allegedly violating California law by pressuring employees to lobby against health reform. Corporate mobilization of employees is a lobbying technique used by Philip Morris in opposing U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco in the 1990s.
By Anne Landman on November 13, 2009