Big Insurance's Unholy ObamaCare Alliance - By Joel Aaron
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In 2009, the fight over ObamaCare was dominated by names in Washington like Pelosi, Reid and Obama. In 2013, as it hits the streets on the countdown to an October 1st open enrollment launch, they are becoming names like Debra Barrett, Tom Epstein, Anthony Barrueta, Mark Bertolini and Robert Henkel. Who are these shadow figures? Turns out they’ve been there all along as Big Insurance has angled in Washington to force ObamaCare down American’s throats. And they are now pulling levers as members of the Board of Directors and Advisory Council of the little known, Enroll America.
Enroll America is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization that aims to enroll young, healthy uninsured Americans in ObamaCare health exchanges to defray costs associated with the anticipated enrollment of ill individuals. They are launching a state-based, micro-targeted grassroots campaign, called “Get Covered America,” to inform their target audience about ObamaCare before open enrollment begins on October 1st, 2013. The group is expanding, now hiring in Georgia, having recently hosted 50 GCA events in 18 states. When open enrollment begins in October, they will launch a seven-figure media ad buy and ramp up grassroots outreach efforts.
So what’s wrong with all this? Everything for opponents of corrupt government-business cronyism! Big Insurance and Big Pharma, ever the good shepherds of ObamaCare, now appear to be using Enroll America as a tax exempt front group to shill for their private sector insurance policies and products in order to pocket enormous profits while appearing impartial. Even worse, the administration has taken an active role in soliciting funds for the group. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ recently admitted to asking at least 3 HHS-regulated groups for general support and asking two other groups for financial donations. Conflict of interest? Only if you contend that an executive branch government agency director, involved in soliciting funds from a group she is charged with regulating, might border on extortion under other circumstances. These are clearly not those circumstances.
The shadow figures on the decision-making Board for Enroll America include a staggering series of Big Pharma and Big Insurance heavyweights. Debra Barrett is the Vice President of Government Affairs for Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, one of the nation’s largest developers and manufacturers of generic and branded products. Tom Epstein, the Vice President of Public Affairs for Blue Shield of California, is a member of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Kaiser Permanente’s Anthony Barrueta, also a member of the Board, is KP’s Senior Vice President of Government Relations. Enroll America’s Advisory Council is no less appalling. Robert J. Henkel serves as CEO of Ascension Health while Aetna CEO Mark T. Bertolini fills yet another seat. They are flanked by representatives of Planned Parenthood, the Service Employees International Union and MomsRising, a progressive leaning 501c4 organization based out of Bellevue, Washington.
Taxpayers and patients lost while insurance companies won big when ObamaCare passed on Capitol Hill. The same continues to be true as the law is fully implemented. The shameful thing is, the same groups that spent millions of dollars to pass ObamaCare are now the driving forces behind Enroll America and they all have the same objective: the bottom line…at your expense.