Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sen. Max Baucus's Health Care Bait and Switch

This is Max Baucus, the head of the Senate Finance Committee... he's gotten more money from the health and insurance industry than any other member of Congress

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Insurance interests total 1/4 of Baucus' fundraising

HELENA — As Sen. Max Baucus has taken the lead on health-reform legislation in the U.S. Senate, he's also become a leader in something else: Campaign money received from health- and insurance-industry interests.

In the past six years, nearly one-fourth of every dime raised by Baucus, D-Mont., and his political-action committee has come from groups and individuals associated with drug companies, insurers, hospitals, medical-supply firms, health-service companies and other health professionals.

These donations total about $3.4 million, or $1,500 a day, every day, from January 2003 through 2008.

Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee that is drafting a major health-care reform bill this month, insists this cavalcade of money is not unduly influencing his work.

"No matter the issue, Max always puts Montana first," said his spokesman, Ty Matsdorf. "Max will continue to do what's right for our state, and groups like SEIU (a union representing thousands of health-care workers) and AARP (a senior citizens' group) wouldn't line up in support of his health-care reform effort if this wasn't true." Baucus' office also lists numerous examples of how his proposed reforms are challenging the health-care and insurance industries, such as requiring insurers to accept all customers, regardless of health condition.

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