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Friday, June 26, 2009

Who is Writing the Health Care Reform Bill?

As President Obama continues to push the Congress towards a massive overhaul of the nation’s health care system, various outlets have begun looking into the campaign finance records of the key Senators involved in the legislation.

The AP reports:
Influential senators working to overhaul the nation's health care system have investments and family ties with some of the biggest names in the industry. The wife of Sen. Chris Dodd, the lawmaker in charge of writing the Senate's bill, sits on the boards of four health care companies.

Members of both parties have industry connections, including Democrats Jay Rockefeller and Tom Harkin, in addition to Dodd, and Republicans Tom Coburn, Judd Gregg, John Kyl and Orrin Hatch, financial reports showed Friday.
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), the Chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, one of two Senate Committees that will have to approve of any overhaul bill, has also received substantial support from the health care industry, reports the Billings Gazette:
As Sen. Max Baucus has taken the lead on health reform legislation in the U.S. Senate, he also has become a leader in something else: campaign money received from health and insurance industry interests.

In the past six years, nearly one-fourth of every dime raised by the Montana Democrat and his political action committee has come from groups and individuals associated with drug companies, insurers, hospitals, medical supply firms, health service companies and other health professionals.

These donations total about $3.4 million, or $1,500 a day, every day, from January 2003 through 2008.

Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, which is drafting a major health care reform bill this month, insists that this cascade of money is not unduly influencing his work.
Neither of these reports contend that any of the Members mentioned have acted improperly. They simply point out that there are significant interests at play, beyond those of the public.

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