At New Hampshire Press Conference With Michael Moore, Nurses Say Money Influencing Candidates to Promote Insurance-Based Reform. (Original article.)
MANCHESTER, N.H.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Democratic and Republican candidates have accepted more than $3.7 million in campaign contributions this year from healthcare industry sources, with more than 45% of it going to just two candidates, Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, according to a new report issued Friday.
Overall, healthcare contributions to the 18 currently announced Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates total an aggregate $12.8 million since 1989 – with 29% of that total donated just in the first quarter of 2007 alone.
Clinton topped the recipient list with $868,722, 23% of all the healthcare money donated to candidates this year. Romney was a close second at $833,385, 22% of the total dollars. The other frontrunners followed. Sen. Barack Obama, with $574,268, 15%; Sen. John McCain, $423,751, 11%; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, $408,822, also 11%; and former Sen. John Edwards, $222,950, 6%.
Political donations are just part of the story. Healthcare money also swamps Congress. In federal lobbying, healthcare spending exceeds $2.2 billion the past decade, during which healthcare surpassed all other industry sectors in lobbying expenditures.
“From the campaign trail to Capitol Hill, the healthcare industry has a choke hold on legislation and the debate on healthcare reform,” says Michael Lighty, public policy director for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee whose research arm, the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy, did the study.
CNA/NNOC compiled the research report in concert with the release of Michael Moore’s “SiCKO,” a searing indictment of the healthcare industry.
“The avalanche of healthcare industry cash is corrupting public policy on healthcare,” said Lighty. “It leads to legislation that benefits the healthcare lobbyists – such as the recent vote in the Senate killing a bill to enable the federal government to use its bulk power to garner discount prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients. It also encourages Presidential candidates to promote solutions that expand the reach and wealth of the insurance industry.”
Lighty noted most of the Presidential candidates favor insurance-based reforms, such as requiring everyone to buy insurance, or taxing employers to buy insurance, or enacting more tax credits for buying insurance. “It is no surprise that the virtually none of the candidates who receive this money advocate the elimination of private health insurance.”
In New Hampshire press conference Friday, CNA/NNOC and Moore called on all the candidates to reject healthcare industry contributions, part of a four point pledge that also urges the candidates to support for guaranteed, comprehensive healthcare for life; eliminate the role of private insurers in health coverage; and stronger regulation of the drug industry.
Following the announcement of the pledge, and the first presentation of the CNA/NNOC report, two bus loads of nurses from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Illinois, and California visited the Manchester, NH campaign offices of a number of the candidates to urge them to support the pledge (photos available upon request).
Dating back to 1989, the report, based on a comprehensive analysis of publicly available and custom data sets from the Center for Responsive Politics, shows that Romney is the top recipient of pharmaceutical contributions and money from banks and securities and investment firms which are a prime beneficiary of the rapid growth of Health Savings Accounts and other reform plans that rely on financial institutions. The finance industry ranks third in lobbying expenditures the past decade after healthcare and communications/technology.
Sen. Christopher Dodd, whose home state houses corporate offices for many insurance corporations, is the top beneficiary of insurance and HMO donations. Clinton leads among donations from health professionals and lobbyists.
In releasing the report, said Lighty, CNA/NNOC, hopes to help “lift the veil on the corrosive influence of political money. Nurses are the antidote to that greed and callous denial of care. It is their everyday experiences which are depicted on screen in “SiCKO,” mirrored in the film’s brutal and heartbreaking stories.”
“Nurses around the country are campaigning to change the healthcare system to get the insurance companies out of the way, and will be in front of movie theaters in every corner of our country when ‘SiCKO’ opens nationwide June 29 to encourage the movie audiences to join us,” Lighty said.
California Nurses Association
Charles Idelson, 510-273-2246 or 415-559-8991 (cell)