ince the beginning of the debate around passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has worked to undermine efforts to expand access to healthcare for tens of millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans.
In just 15 months between 2009 and 2010, the Chamber spent more than $102 million dollars, funneled to it by the big health insurers, on opposing the ACA. Fast forward to 2017, and we see that the Chamber has far from given up its crusade against the ACA, and recently urged the House to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) which would repeal the ACA. If the ACA were repealed, it would likely result in 23 million Americans losing their health insurance and would weaken a host of important protections such as the requirement that health insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions.
Now, with 13 Republican senators crafting a Senate version of the AHCA in secret, we wanted to see to what level the Chamber has the ear of these powerful senators. It should perhaps come as no surprise that the Chamber, the largest non-disclosing outside spender in 2016 congressional races, spent more than $16 million between 2012 and 2016 supporting the campaigns of ten of the 13 senators authoring the bill.
|SENATOR||MONEY SPENT BY CHAMBER, 2012-2016|
|LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN)||$1,000|
|MIKE LEE (R-UT)||$1,000|
|JOHN THUNE (R-SD)||$3,500|
|TOM COTTON (R-AR)||$5,000|
|JOHN CORNYN (R-TX)||$7,500|
|ORRIN HATCH (R-UT)||$95, 140|
|MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY)||$1, 579, 620|
|CORY GARDNER (R-CO)||$3, 734, 275|
|ROB PORTMAN (R-OH)||$4, 616, 326|
|PAT TOOMEY (R-PA)||$6, 116, 150|
|TOTAL||$16, 159, 511|
(Senate authors of the secret healthcare bill that were not supported by the Chamber are Cruz, Enzi, and Barrasso)
With powerful special interests groups like the Chamber spending eye-popping sums of money to elect some of these senators, is it any wonder that reports about the secret senate Republican plans for health care reform show that like the House version, it will prioritize the interests of the big health insurers over those of the American people? The Chamber’s longstanding opposition to the ACA and its support of the AHCA are just another example of the trade group putting profits before people.