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The Obamacans have spent a lot of their political capital during the past year to woo health insurance giants, drug companies, hospital chains, and other corporate chunks of what is called the health care “industry.” The White House wanted the industry’s support for its health care bill so badly that it compromised its own reform legislation into corporate mush, but at least the industry is now supporting Obama’s bill. Or, is it?
While lobbying groups for these corporate interests do profess approval of the federal reform, these same interests have slipped into more than a dozen states to lay the political groundwork for gutting the implementation of any national law that Obama might get passed. As usual, the industry’s groundwork consists of throwing basketfuls of campaign cash at state legislators. Last year, drug companies alone poured $20 million into the coffers of state politicians, and it’s estimated that industry-wide donations to state lawmakers this year will be well above $100 million – more than these corporate interests will spend on congressional races.
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The state-level gut job is not a scattershot effort. It is being orchestrated by a network of corporate-funded think tanks, foundations, and front groups. The main legislative tool for blocking the federal reform is a state nullification idea that came out of the Goldwater Institute, a far-right-wing think tank in Arizona. In turn, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate funded front group created specifically to influence state legislators, adopted the Goldwater idea last year and is shopping it around to various states – already the nullification scheme has been introduced in 15 states.
In battling corporate profiteers, the fight is not over even when it’s “over.” To keep up with what’s going on in the states, including your own, contact, Health Care for America Now: www.healthcareforamericanow.org.
“At State Level, Health Lobby Fights Change,” The New York Times, December 29, 2009.