Massive Profits in Ryan Medicare Scheme Drive Insurance Industry Cash to Republicans

New analysis shows that those backing Ryan plan have received $50 million in campaign donations from insurance interests

Press Release from Public Campaign Action Fund and Health Care for America Now

Washington, D.C. – Insurance companies that would benefit from a Medicare privatization program supported by GOP candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and nearly every congressional Republican are filling their campaign coffers and raising questions about whom they really work for – constituents or big insurance and Wall Street donors. The privatization scheme, designed by Ryan, would end Medicare as we know it and leave seniors without protection from soaring out-of-pocket medical costs.

The insurance industry and HMOs so far in the 2012 election cycle have given at least $14 million in campaign contributions to U.S. House members who voted for the Ryan plan to privatize Medicare, according to a new report prepared by Public Campaign Action Fund and Health Care for America Now utilizing data downloaded and coded by the Center for Responsive Politics. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, has received $2.7 million from insurance interests this cycle alone. Taking the long view, members of Congress who voted for the Ryan budget collected $49.7 million in campaign contributions from the insurance industry over their careers – far more than those voting against the plan, the report said.

For the insurance industry, the political spending is an investment that could reap enormous returns. The market value of Wall Street-run health insurance companies will increase by $12 billion to $25 billion if the Republicans win the Senate and the White House, and by 2030 the industry would post $16 billion to $26 billion in increased annual profits attributable to the Medicare privatization, the report said.

“Americans want quality and guaranteed Medicare, but when we have a Congress on the auction block, they'll put Medicare on the chopping block,” said David Donnelly, executive director of Public Campaign Action Fund. “This report allows voters to connect the dots for themselves by showing the members of Congress who voted for Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare while scooping up checks from the insurance industry that would benefit.”

“The Republican plan to privatize and voucherize Medicare would increase costs for seniors and turn the most effective and cost-efficient health insurance program over to the insurance industry,” said Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now, the nation’s largest grassroots health care advocacy organization. “It’s disturbing, though not surprising, that the GOP is bankrolled by the insurance industry – the special interests that would reap staggering profits from this plan. When the GOP and health insurance companies win, consumers lose.”

New polling shows that seniors are extremely sensitive about the alliance between the health insurance industry and the Republican Party. More than half – 55 percent – of voters said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports the budget that includes the privatization scheme, according to Democracy Corps, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Campaign Action Fund. But that swelled to 70 percent when voters were asked if they would be less likely to vote for that candidate if he or she also took thousands in campaign donations from insurance executives, lobbyists and political action committees.

“Along with their systematic effort to undermine Medicare, the Republicans are working to repeal the Affordable Care Act and decimate Medicaid,” Rome said. “The GOP’s plan is to put seniors and their families at the mercy of the private health insurance industry without adequate coverage, without their choice of doctor and without protection from huge new out-of-pocket costs.”

“Policy in Washington is too often decided by those who give the most money at the expense of everyday Americans,” said Donnelly. “Insurance interests are pouring money into campaigns because it’s in their narrow interest to privatize Medicare and maximize profits. The problem is, Americans of all political stripes don’t have the same power and influence to shape policy. That’s why we have to hold our members of Congress accountable and it’s why we need fundamental changes to our campaign finance system.”

The report, along with a complete list of members and their total contributions from the industry, is available online at www.campaignmoney.org/reports/insurance and at http://healthcareforamericanow.org/health-insurance-contributions-to-ryan-budget-supporters/.

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