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Health Insurance Industry Opens Check Books for Mitt Romney, Barack Obama

September 28, 2011

This article is re-posted from

Research by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that President Barack Obama and his GOP rival Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, are the only two presidential candidates to have raised more than $40,000 from the health insurance industry so far this election cycle.

As of June 30, the date of the most recent campaign finance reports, Romney edges out Obama in terms of money raised, $43,750 versus $42,675, the Center’s analysis indicates.

Both men have favored health care policies that include an individual mandate for people to purchase private insurance plans. Romney did so as governor of Massachusetts, and Obama did so as part of the health care reform package he signed into law last year — a package that did not include a public insurance option to compete against private plans, as many liberals hoped it would.

Such mandates are supported by the insurance industry, which stand to benefit from increased customers as well as from government subsidies that help enroll people who could not otherwise afford insurance.

Romney, in fact, has received more than five times as much money from the health insurance industry than any other GOP presidential candidate, according to the Center’s research.

On the campaign trail, Romney has stood behind his Massachusetts policy, while arguing that Obama’s plan is unconstitutional because of the individual mandate from the federal government.

As Romney recently told Fox News host Bill O’Reilly: “States have the right to mandate. That’s why states mandate kids go to school. The federal government can’t do that. States mandate you have to buy auto insurance. The federal government can’t do that.”

Romney has also pledged to repeal Obama’s health care overhaul — which, like many Republicans, he calls “Obamacare” — on his first day in office.

On his first day in office, according to Romney’s campaign website, he will “issue an executive order paving the way for waivers from Obamacare for all 50 states. Subsequently, he will call on Congress to fully repeal Obamacare and advocate reforms that return power to the states.”

As governor of Massachusetts, Romney endorsed a health care policy that mandated insurance coverage for all, targeting specifically the 10 percent without insurance. The 2006 bill was largely a success. A 2010 study (.pdf file here) found that 98.1 percent of Massachusetts residents were insured and 99.8 percent of children had coverage.

Behind Romney, the Center, found that ex-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich ranked as the No. 2 and No. 3 beneficiaries of health insurance money in the GOP presidential field.

They have raised $8,500 and $8,250, respectively, from health insurers, according to the Center’s analysis.

Before joining the “repeal Obamacare” bandwagon, Gingrich, like Romney, previously supported individual health insurance mandates and subsidies to help low-income Americans afford private insurance.

Santorum, who also wants to “repeal Obamacare,” was also the first 2012 presidential candidate to criticize a June decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold Obama’s health care law.

“It is deeply disappointing,” he said, “to force the average American to submit their most personal decisions — their healthcare choices — to the government.”

Back in 1993, Santorum sponsored the Comprehensive Family Health Access and Savings Act with then-Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), which would have provided assistance to low-income Americans to purchase health insurance but did not include an individual mandate — an idea that many Republican lawmakers backed as an alternative to health care reforms championed by the Clinton administration.

Gramm and Santorum’s legislation never made it out of committee.

Notably, Santorum is the only presidential candidate to whom health insurers represent more than 1 percent of the money he has raised.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who proposes a free market-based insurance approach, has raised $2,250 from health insurers, according to the Center’s research. And Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who also claims Obama’s health care reforms are unconstitutional, has so far raised $500 from health insurers.

Here is a table showing how much money each presidential candidate has raised from the health insurance industry as of June 30:




Mitt Romney R


Barack Obama D


Rick Santorum R


Newt Gingrich R


Ron Paul R


Herman Cain R


Michele Bachmann R


Texas Gov. Rick Perry, too, has threatened to wipe out “Obamacare” with an executive order if he is elected president.

But back in 1993, when Perry was the agriculture commissioner in Texas, he showed support of the emerging “HillaryCare” reform bill in a letter to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. At the time, critics were already calling the Clinton initiative “socialism.”

As governor of Texas, Perry has battled the rising need for Medicaid in his state, where more than a third of the children are dependent on the program. The New York Times reports that Texas state agencies have accepted nearly $20 million in grants authorized by Obama’s health care law.

Moreover, the Texas health industry has a strong donor base that could help Perry. Research by the Center shows that Texas health professionals donated $7.7 million to federal political candidates and committees during the last election cycle.

Perry’s presidential campaign has not yet filed any campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission. Third-quarter reports are due to the FEC in mid-October.

For his part, Obama has attempted to brush off criticism of his health care reform overhaul.

“I have no problem with folks saying ‘Obama cares,'” Obama said last month at an event in Minnesota, not far from the renowned Mayo Clinic. “I do care… If the other side wants to be the folks that don’t care, that’s fine with me.”

In addition to requiring individuals to have health insurance plans, Obama’s health care law requires insurance companies to stop discriminating in their coverage based on people’s pre-existing conditions and it prohibits insurance companies from dropping your coverage if you get sick.

Additionally, the law allows children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26, closes the Medicare Part D prescription drug “donut hole” and makes preventive care such as physicals and mammograms free, among other changes.

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