Health Lobbying Ranges From Below The Radar To High Profile
A Charlotte, N.C., law firm is operating a secretive group called Americans for Quality and Affordable Healthcare to attempt to shape lawmakers' and the public's opinions on health reform, the Associated Press reports. The law firm would not name the groups' backers, saying they want to remain "off the front page," but the group's "below-the-radar" activities (such as helping a member of a Las Vegas conservative group appear on local talk radio to criticize the Democrats' proposal) oppose any "government-run" insurance plan and support broader mandates for people to buy insurance, two goals shared by insurers. Major insurers in North Carolina and nationally, as well as the leading industry group, said they were not involved in the group.
The group is not alone - its "activities illustrate how some are furtively trying to shape public and congressional opinion through front groups - seemingly independent organizations that pursue their founders' goals while masking their identity," the AP reports. The group has so far caught notice in Louisiana, Maine, and Nevada, three crucial reform states as the home to the Senate Majority leader and two potential Senate swing votes (Fram, 11/15).
Meanwhile, "[t]he U.S. Chamber of Commerce and an assortment of national business groups opposed to President Obama's health-care reform effort are collecting money to finance an economic study that could be used to portray the legislation as a job killer and threat to the nation's economy, according to an e-mail solicitation from a top Chamber official," The Washington Post reports. Under the plan, the Chamber would spend $50,000 to have a "respected economist" to study "the impact of health-care legislation ... on jobs and the economy." Step two as outlined in an email written by a Chamber senior health policy manager and obtained by The Post would be as follows: "The economist will then circulate a sign-on letter to hundreds of other economists saying that the bill will kill jobs and hurt the economy. We will then be able to use this open letter to produce advertisements, and as a powerful lobbying and grass-roots document" (Shear, 11/16).
Meanwhile, Roll Call reports that "Downtown's newest labor boss is making bold predictions during his first weeks on the job, assuring passage of a liberal health care overhaul by the 2010 State of the Union ... Newly minted AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also is not ruling out launching television advertisements or rallying his members against a Democratic-backed health care bill if it taxes benefits, does not include a public insurance option or if it does not force companies to cover their employees." The organization oopses taxes on employee health plans (Murray, 11/16).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.