Posted on October 26, 2006

Does insurance money buy Congressional votes?


Insurance Contributors Favor Republicans; Santorum, Clinton, McGavick Top Recipients

Insurance Journal
October 25, 2006

According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, insurance political action committees and individuals in the industry had given a total of $22.8 million to candidates in House and Senate races as of Sept. 11, with 66 percent or $15.1 million of that going to Republicans.

The CRP tally of top beneficiaries of insurance giving places two politicians not found together on many of the same lists in the top spots and a former insurance executive in the third position.

The top 10 recipients of insurance political donations (based on FEC data released Oct. 11) are Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa. ($416,000); Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. ($340,000); Michael McGavick, Republican former Safeco Insurance executive running for Senate in Washington ($280,000); Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., $262,000); Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio ($253,000); Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz. ($241,000); Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn. ($239,000); Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-Conn. ($229,000); Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio ($218,000); and Rep. Mark Kennedy, Republican Senate candidate in Minnesota.

Hillary Clinton in 1993:

Dead on arrival: why Washington’s power elites won’t consider single payer health reform

By Tom Hamburger, Ted Marmor
Washington Monthly
Sept, 1993

In a separate session with Hillary Rodham Clinton, Dr. David Himmelstein of Harvard Medical School (a close colleague of Quentin Young’s), also pressed the single-payer point. Canada’s solution, he said, made sense for the United States. Himmelstein’s studies, published in The New England Journal of Medicine since 1986, show that the U.S. could save as much as $67 billion in administrative costs alone by cutting out the 1,500 private insurers and going to a single government insurer in each state - easily enough to pay to cover every uninsured American.

Hillary Clinton had heard it all before. How, she asked Himmelstein, do you defeat the multi-billion dollar insurance industry? “With presidential leadership and polls showing that 70 percent of Americans favor [the features of] a single-payer system,” Himmelstein recalls telling Mrs. Clinton. The First Lady replied: “Tell me something interesting, David.”

Hillary Clinton in 2006:

Wounds Salved, Clinton Returns to Health Care

By Robin Toner and Anne E. Kornblut
The New York Times
June 10, 2006

Mrs. Clinton has not pushed a comprehensive coverage plan in her first term in the Senate. As part of the Democratic minority, she says she has primarily focused on defending existing programs from cuts by conservatives.

She also continues to shy from the ultimate challenge: describing what a comprehensive Democratic health care plan would look like. When pressed, for example, on how to control costs, usually the thorniest issue, she replied:
“It depends on what kind of system you’re devising. And that’s still not at all clear to me, what the body politic will bear.”


By Don McCanne, MD

What will the body politic bear? Can a politician maintain objectivity on an issue that can have a major impact on a large donor? Does the appearance of a conflict necessarily translate into an actual conflict? Maybe the voters should tell Senator Clinton “something interesting” when it is time to select the next Democratic candidate for president.