Difficult To Decipher: Tracking The Funding Sources For Some Health Care Interest Groups
"Many of the Washington interest groups that are seeking to shape final health-care legislation in the coming weeks operate with opaque financing, often receiving hidden support from insurers, drugmakers or unions," The Washington Post reports. While the "biggest spenders in the health-care debate are well-known Washington veterans with clear constituencies," there is another "more elusive collection of organizations, many of them particularly energized in opposition to Democratic health-care reform efforts. Most are organized as nonprofits, meaning they do not have to reveal many financial details beyond basic revenue and expenses. Some are bankrolled by charitable foundations with a political bent or by industries with a financial stake in the debate; nearly all use names that seem designed to obscure their origins."
"The Partnership to Improve Patient Care, for example, headed by former congressman Tony Coelho (D-Calif.), was formed by the drug industry in November 2008 to lobby against binding government effectiveness studies, which could be used to determine what insurance companies must cover. ... Another major player, the 60 Plus Association, bills itself as a conservative alternative to AARP, the 40 million-member seniors group. Sixty Plus has saturated the airwaves with more than $9 million worth of television spots in recent months" (Eggen, 1/7).
In a separate item, The Washington Post reports that "[t]otal television ad spending on all sides of the health-care debate has now exceeded $200 million, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group. No other past issue advocacy campaign tracked by the firm has cost even a quarter of that amount. Through July, supporters of Democrats' reform plans had outspent anti-reform groups by more than a 2-to-1 margin. But opponents have stepped up their efforts since then, and CMAG puts the current tally at $95 million for reform, $86 million against it and roughly $25 million for ads with neutral messages or focused on narrow slices of the reform debate" (Pershing, 1/6).