Seen one of those TV ads attacking healthcare reform?
Chances are, it may have been paid for by a health insurance company funneling money through the US Chamber of Commerce — who then funneled it to one of two front groups it created specifically aimed at derailing or watering down the Democrats’ healthcare reform bill.
According to National Journal veteran investigative correspondent Peter Stone, some $10 to $20 million of health insurer money was funneled into the Chamber of Commerce, which then doled it out to its anti-healthcare groups, Campaign for Responsible Health Reform and Employers for a Healthy Economy.
The insurers who contributed to the anti-reform effort purportedly were: Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser Foundation Health Plans, UnitedHealth Group and Wellpoint.
Each insurer reportedly gave at least $1 million to the campaign, with some insurers contributions totaling in the multi-millions.
America’s Health Insurance Plans, the insurers’ lobbying group, “wanted to do this through a third party because of what happened with the Harry and Louise ads,” a source told Stone. “The goal was to get a message out there to make sure the public understood the serious shortcomings of the legislative proposals.”
The Harry and Louise ads were a highly successful ad campaign that helped unravel President Bill Clinton’s attempts to reform the healthcare industry. But they were paid for directly by the insurance companies, stoking ire among liberals.
Bruce Josten, top lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce, refused to comment on the insurers’ donations.
“No comment,” he said. “We never disclose funding or what we’re going to do.”
The Chamber has spent between $70 million and $100 million on their healthcare ad drive to date, Stone says. In June, the Chamber announced they’d be spending up to $100 million on an ad campaign to “promote the free market,” though it’s unclear if the healthcare drive was part of that push.
The following ads ran on behalf of one of the Chamber’s front groups, potentially receiving money from the health insurance industry.
Privacy rights may become next victim of killer pandemic
Digital surveillance and smartphone technology may prove helpful in containing the coronavirus pandemic -- but some activists fear this could mean lasting harm to privacy and digital rights.
From China to Singapore to Israel, governments have ordered electronic monitoring of their citizens' movements in an effort to limit contagion. In Europe and the United States, technology firms have begun sharing "anonymized" smartphone data to better track the outbreak.
These moves have prompted soul-searching by privacy activists who acknowledge the need for technology to save lives while fretting over the potential for abuse.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards honors staffer who died from COVID-19
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) offered a moving tribute to a member of his staff who died from COVID-19.
"On behalf of the first lady and my entire administration, it is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of our dear April, who succumbed to complications from COVID-19," he posted on Twitter, along with photos.
"She brightened everyone’s day with her smile and was an inspiration to everyone who met her," he continued.
"She lived her life to the fullest and improved the lives of countless Louisianans with disabilities as a dedicated staff member in the Governor's Office of Disability Affairs. April worked hard as an advocate for herself & other members of the disability community," he wrote.
Washington state nurses share shocking stories from their war against coronavirus
by Ken Armstrong and Vianna Davila
Nurses at one hospital in southeastern Washington state have alleged that, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they were ordered by supervisors to use one protective mask per shift, potentially exposing themselves to the novel coronavirus.
At another hospital, just east of Seattle, nurses had to use face shields indefinitely.
At a third hospital, on Washington’s border with Oregon, nurses reported that respirators were expired. The hospital responded, the nurses said, by ordering staff to remove stickers showing that the respirators might be as much as three years out of date.