Monday, September 28, 2009

Are Industry Lobbyists Raising Our Health Care Premiums?

While the Senate Finance Committee is slogging through more than 530 amendments to Sen. Max Baucus’ flawed health care reform bill, more than 2,700 lobbyists are working overtime to protect the private health insurance industry and other health care corporations.
Yesterday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called for an investigation into the connection between the millions of dollars that health insurance companies are spending on lobbying expenses to kill health care reform and soaring premiums. Today, Bloomberg News reports that more than half of the health care industry’s hired-gun lobbyists are former congressional staffers, White House employees or government agency veterans—55 are former members of Congress.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va..) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) each plan to offer a public option amendment next week. Says Rockefeller:
A health-care plan without a public option is a much weaker health plan because insurance companies continue to rule. [A public option] is going to force other companies to bring down costs over time.

All 10 committee Republicans will oppose the amendments and it may not win enough of the 13 Democratic votes. If it fails in committee, Schumer says he will take the fight to the floor when the full Senate votes.
Read it all here.

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