As conservatives express frustration that the House GOP’s Obamacare reform plan doesn’t address key campaign promises opposed by Big Pharma and insurance giants, new attention is likely to be paid to the massive investments these special interests make in order to curry Republican influence on Capitol Hill.
“Th[e] House leadership plan is Obamacare Lite. It will not pass. Conservatives are not going to take it. #FullRepeal,” tweeted Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Tuesday morning, before launching a small storm of tweets detailing the new replacement plan’s fundamental flaws.
“We own repeal. We ran on it. It is our idea. We have to pass it cleanly.”
The plan “keeps Obamacare subsidies but renames them ‘refundable credits,'” he wrote. The plan “keeps the Obamacare ‘Cadillac Tax’ forever, which is a tax on the best health insurance,” he tweeted.
Moreover, “it keeps individual mandate but makes you pay the insurance companies instead of the government” and “it keeps insurance company subsidies forever.”
These are the same concerns raised by Paul in an article co-written with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and published on Fox News Monday, in which they argued that a repeal bill and a replacement bill must be separate.
Yet GOP leadership seems more interested in listening to the insurance industry and Big Pharma — and getting those industries’ dollars — than listening to conservatives like Paul and Meadows on health care reform. It’s not hard to see why.
Throughout 2015, pharmaceutical companies spent $240 million on lobbying and the insurance industry spent $157 million on lobbying efforts, according to OpenSecrets.org.
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Throughout House Speaker Paul Ryan’s congressional career, his top source of campaign donations after retirees and the financial industry is the insurance industry, from whom he has received over $2 million in contributions.
Ryan has also received over $1.3 million from “Health Professionals,” and nearly $1 million from the pharmaceutical industry, according to OpenSecrets.
From July 2014 to June 2016 alone, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where the Obamacare replacement bill originated, has received $189,800 from the pharmaceutical industry, according to OpenSecrets. Upton is the third largest recipient of pharmaceutical campaign dollars in that time period, only beaten out by Ryan with $223,050 and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy with $233,850.
In every election since the 2010 midterms, in which the Democratic Party lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives, the majority of donations from the “pharmaceutical and health products” industry have gone to Republican candidates, OpenSecrets reveals. Republican candidates received $74.2 million in each election (including 2010), while Democrats received $59.9 million.
Insurance companies, meanwhile, have donated more money to Republicans than Democrats in every single election since 1992. Since 2010 (including the 2010 midterms), Republicans have received $130.2 million from the insurance industry — Democrats have received just $73.6 million.
In total, Republican outpaced Democrats by roughly 34 percent in donations from both insurers and pharmaceutical manufacturers since 2010.
“We own repeal. We ran on it. It is our idea. We have to pass it cleanly, now,” wrote Paul and Meadows in their op-ed published Monday. “We owe the American people a real old-fashioned period of allowing all ideas to be debated and voted on to produce the best product possible.”