Health Care Reform Repeal: Bought and Paid for by Citizens United

To:  Interested Parties
From: Marge Baker, People For the American Way
Date: January 19, 2011
Subject: Health Care Reform Repeal: Bought and Paid for by Citizens United

It is no secret that the health insurance industry spent tens of millions of dollars in its effort to prevent comprehensive health care reform from becoming law. But the insurance industry and its allies did not give up their fight against health care reform when the Affordable Care Act became law. In fact, empowered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, corporate-backed groups intent on the repeal of the health care reform law spent an enormous amount of money to help defeat vulnerable supporters of reform and elect candidates who vowed to repeal it.

According to research by People For the American Way, in the 36 House races in which representatives who supported health care reform were defeated in November:

  • Nine cents of every dollar spent—including spending by campaigns, parties, and outside groups— came from a small set of outside groups focused on repealing the reform law.
  • 21% of all of the money spent by or on behalf of successful anti-reform challengers was spent by those same groups.  

This outside spending—one fifth of the over $100 million spent by and on behalf of challengers in 36 flipped health care races—came from a set of 20 national groups dedicated to the repeal of the health care reform law.  Three groups, US Chamber of Commerce, 60 Plus Association, and the Coalition to Protect Seniors received support from the health care industry according to news reports. The other groups identified as pro-repeal, Americans for Tax Reform; Americans for Limited Government; Alliance for America’s Future; American Action Network; American Future Fund; Super PAC for America; BIPAC; Revere America; Club for Growth; Americans for Job Security; American Crossroads & Crossroads GPS; Americans for Prosperity; Center For Individual Freedom; FreedomWorks; NFIB, and the New Prosperity Foundation ran advertisements attacking health care reform, often including misleading claims, but were largely exempt from requirements to disclose their funders.

In some cases, the influence of these anti-health care reform groups was overwhelming. In Nevada’s third congressional district, almost $5 million was spent to defeat Democratic incumbent Dina Titus. 40% of that came from pro-repeal groups, including a $700,000 investment from the American Action Network, a secretive group started by GOP operatives, which ran an outrageous ad claiming that the Affordable Care Act had provided Viagra to convicted rapists.

In Pennsylvania’s 10th district, these pro-repeal groups footed 37% of the money spent to defeat incumbent Rep. Chris Carney. The biggest spender among them was the 60 Plus Association, a group that does not disclose its donors but which has a history as a front group for Big Pharma. Among other activities in the district, 60 Plus ran an ad claiming that the Affordable Care Act cut $500 million from Medicare—a common accusation that is also completely false.

In New Hampshire, 28% of the money spent to defeat incumbent Carol Shea-Porter came from the “Repeal 20”. Revere America, another group that did not reveal its donors, was particularly active in that race, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and running an ad repeating what became PolitiFact.com’s lie of the year: that the ACA created “government-run healthcare.”

In the 2010 elections, because of lax restrictions on corporate spending and disclosure laws rife with loopholes, 20 anti-reform groups were able to make substantial investments in congressional elections. At the same time, they were able to magnify the impact of their dollars by spreading misleading claims about the health care reform bill. This week, as the House votes to repeal a bill that would bring health and financial security to millions of Americans, they will see a powerful return on their investments.  

The total amount spent by outside groups was corrected on 1/20/2011.

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