Monday, August 31, 2009

Baby, What a Big Surprise! (Not)

While the health care reform debate is still raging, we should take a look at the financial backers of the "Party of No." Take Mitch McConnell, for example. has compiled a list of the individuals and corporations that have contributed to the Senate Minority Leader's campaign committee and his leadership PAC (they do the same for all members of Congress).

In the 2010 election cycle, Sen. McConnell's leading contributor is . . . (drumroll please) Kindred Healthcare. Kindred was also McConnell's top supporter in the 2008 election cycle. Kindred describes itself as follows: "Kindred Healthcare through its subsidiaries operates long-term acute care hospitals, skilled nursing centers and a contract rehabilitation services business, Peoplefirst Rehabilitation Services, across the United States."

Kindred's disproportionate share of contributions is symptomatic of the outsized influence of health care and insurance special interests on the Senator's continued tenure. In the 2008 election cycle, Sen. McConnell's PAC received $590,835 from the health care industry. The insurance industry gave another $211,000.

Closer to home, Sen. Roger Wicker received $242,000 from health professionals, $170,200 from the insurance industry, and $75,550 from hospitals and nursing homes. That's a total of $487,750.

OpenSecrets doesn't have categories for "Americans with no health insurance because they lost their jobs," or "Americans with health insurance that has declined coverage when they needed it most." But somehow I suspect that Sen. McConnell and Sen. Wicker don't get nearly as much money from those folks . . .


Christopher said...

One of the arguments I generally see from pro-Obamacare folks is that increased government healthcare is necessary because many people can't aford healthcare (and therefore forego it) and others who have health insurance get shafted when their insurance companies deny coverage. In other words, it seems from this argument that Obamacare supporters think that this program would pay for healthcare that is either now skipped entirely or left to be paid by insolvent patients.

So what does an an operator of "long-term acute care hospitals, skilled nursing centers and a contract rehabilitation services business, Peoplefirst Rehabilitation Services, across the United States" have to gain from opposing a solution that would ensure it gets paid? I can understand why insurance companies would oppose government-run healthcare, but why would hospitals? More subsidized healthcare would seem to equate to more business for healthcare providers, whouldn't it?

Jim Craig said...

Apparently, some health care providers fear that their rates will be reduced if the Government has a role in the billing process (especially if a public entity is a carrier in the market).

Christopher said...

That's what I thought. Apparently a notable number of physicians who are nailed for upcoding feel that it was justified because their services are worth more than even the upcoded rate reimbursed them. I'm not saying it's right, I'm just saying it seems like the proposed healthcare options all require that somebody gets screwed. At least the government healthcare option has the power to prevent the patient from having to pay when it denies coverage.