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Big Health Insurers Funneled $86.2 Million Through Chamber to Oppose Health Care Reform, in Just 2009
The health insurance industry plowed $86.2 million into drumming up opposition to the health care reform bill, and that was just the money they spent in 2009. Big insurers UnitedHealth Group, CIGNA Corporation and others funneled the money to America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the industry's lobbying group, which in turn gave it to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is acting as a front group for big industries to influence elections. The Chamber used the money to buy advertisements, polling and put on astroturf events aimed at ginning up public opposition to the bill that is predicted to supply health insurance coverage to 32 million previously uninsured Americans, according to Chamber spokesman Tom Collamore. (Before he worked for the Chamber, Collamore was Vice President of Philip Morris Corporate Affairs, the department responsible for implementing programs aimed at thwarting efforts to reduce smoking). The amount the insurers spent was more than AHIP's entire budget from 2008, and accounted for 40 percent of the Chamber's 2009 spending.The Chamber disclosed the funding in annual tax records required by the U.S. government.