CIGNA Admits to Secret Funding for Anti-Health Care Reform Ads
Back in January, as the fight over health care reform was in high gear, the National Journal pinned down what most of us suspected all the time: The nation’s biggest health insurers had been funneling money—about $20 million—quietly to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to air lie-filled, scare-mongering ads about health care reform.
That revelation flew in the face of the insurance industry’s claim that it really supported health care reform, but they were just dickering over the details. While the facts about the secret funds were on the record and not disputed, the big insurers didn’t address the issue.
That is, until Wednesday, when representatives from Health Care for America Now (HCAN) at CIGNA’s annual shareholder meeting in Philadelphia got a confession out of CIGNA CEO David Cordani. The HCAN members were admitted to the meeting in an arrangement with several shareholders and so could question Cordani.
Marc Stier, Pennsylvania state director of HCAN, said Cordani confirmed the company contributed secret funds over the past year to the industry trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), and to the Chamber to wage a duplicitous anti-reform campaign while industry lobbyists were professing to support reform. But Cordani would not say how much CIGNA slipped to the Chamber for the propaganda blitz. Said Stier after the meeting:
Today, for the first time, CIGNA admitted to making secret payments to the Chamber. They won’t tell even their own stockholders how much money they sent through the Chamber, but there is now no question they did so.
Who knows why he “fessed up,” but they say confession is good for the soul. Maybe he was trying to salvage a little bit of CIGNA’s rep for dumping customers who file expensive claims, a practice known as “purging.” According to HCAN, Cordani told shareholders CIGNA will continue the practice.
Salvation may be a ways away.