ObamaCare partners give to the GOP

ObamaCare partners give to the GOP
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Health insurance executives are tilting their campaign giving toward Republicans even as they work closely with the White House to sign people up for ObamaCare.

The insurance industry’s lead political action committee, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) PAC, has donated $162,500 to Republicans this election cycle, compared to $115,500 to Democrats, according to a review of campaign records by The Hill. 

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Individual donations by major health insurance executives follow the same pattern.

Donations from the 14 insurance leaders who met with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell on Sept. 4 have favored the GOP by a margin of more than 2 to 1, records show.

Some of those officials have contributed evenly to both parties or favored Democrats, but three of the insurance leaders have given heavily to the GOP.

Federal Election Commission filings could only be located for 10 of the meeting’s 14 participants.

Oregon-based Cambia Health Solutions CEO Mark Ganz has given $5,200 to Republicans, including $2,600 to GOP Senate candidate Monica Wehby, a doctor. He gave $1,000 to Democrats. 

Florida Blue CEO Pat Geraghty donated $6,200 to the GOP, the bulk of which went to political committees associated with Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Trump adviser expected to leave White House, join Juul The Hill's 12:30 Report: McGahn inflames Dem divisions on impeachment MORE (R-Ohio). Geraghty spent $2,000 on Democrats. 

And Scott Serota, president of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, gave $20,000 to Republicans, including a $15,000 check to the National Republican Senatorial Committee in June. He gave $2,000 to Democrats, by comparison.

The disparity highlights the fragile truce that the insurance industry has kept up with Democrats since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

The law has brought insurers millions of new customers and is set to expand the industry’s reach considerably in future years.

But the insurance industry has a long history of siding with Republicans, and appears to be renewing that alliance now that the most difficult phase of the ObamaCare rollout is over.

In a year when the GOP could take back the Senate, experts on the industry said it’s no surprise that executives are putting money on the Republican side of the scale.

“If this was going to be a Democratic year, my guess is the numbers would be different,” said an industry consultant who served in the George W. Bush administration.

“The money always follows the party in power. It just always does,” the former official continued. “Plus, there’s a tradition of giving to Republicans because they typically represent [insurers’] point of view.”

Staying on good terms with insurers remains important for the White House and the Health and Human Services Department, given that ObamaCare’s exchanges are still less than two years old. The administration needs goodwill from insurers — at least in public — as it seeks to make the law function. 

Not that the relationship hasn’t had ups and down. Before ObamaCare, Democrats were harsh critics of insurers, accusing them of putting profit ahead of people’s lives.

While those accusations have faded, the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov stoked fresh resentment in the insurance industry last year as companies were forced to provide manpower to help clean up the administration’s mess.

Republicans, too, have drawn the industry’s scorn by criticizing the “risk corridor” program in ObamaCare, which redistributes money among insurers based on who enrolls the sickest customers.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump GOP senators work to get Trump on board with new disaster aid package MORE (R-Fla.) and other GOP lawmakers have decried those payments as an industry “bailout” — a tag the industry rejects and has privately urged the GOP to stop using.

Still, insurers remain fundamentally in line with the pro-business views of the GOP, according to one Democratic campaign official who requested to remain anonymous. 

“Republicans have always been in the pocket of big insurance companies who want to work the system in order to abuse patients, so it’s no surprise they’ve given more to the GOP than to Dems,” the official said.

Not all of D.C.’s big healthcare PACs are favoring the GOP this year. 

The campaign committee for the American Medical Association has been evenhanded in its donations to the party committees, giving $60,000 each to the Democratic and Republican sides. 

The American Hospital Association PAC has followed a 50/50 pattern this and last year, while the PAC representing drug makers has divided its major donations close to evenly. 

And just because AHIP PAC and some executives are siding with Republican candidates doesn’t mean every insurance leader is in the GOP’s corner.

Several major figures in the industry, including AHIP President Karen Ignagni, are Democrats. Ignagni has given Democrats $10,000 and Republicans $8,000 this cycle. 

Other executives such as WellPoint President Joe Swedish are playing it safe by donating to each party in equal amounts. 

For the leaders that are directing more donations to the GOP, it is unclear whether they support the consensus view among the party’s candidates that ObamaCare should be replaced. 

A spokeswoman for Ganz, the Oregon executive, said his company has been “an active and vocal support of healthcare reform for many years.” 

“While the Affordable Care Act expands access to coverage, rising healthcare costs puts affordability at risk,” Regena Frieden, director of public relations for Cambia Health Solutions, wrote in an email. 

A spokesman for AHIP said not to draw any conclusions from the numbers. 

“Regardless of party affiliation, AHIP supports candidates who share a commitment to affordability, accessibility, and stability for consumers,” said AHIP spokesman Brendan Buck in a statement. 

Crystal Hill contributed.