The healthcare reform fight is heating up on Capitol Hill, pitting the health insurance industry, big pharma, the docs, the hospitals, the medical tech industry, and the biotech industry against…well, I’m not exactly sure. A very scary coalition of uninsured people, the middle class, unions, and liberal think tanks? Perhaps the lines are not so clearly drawn, as the AMA has been unclear about its position on the public option (a government health insurance plan).
One group that is clear in its opposition to the most significant reforms on the table is America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). Led by Karen Ignagni, AHIP is the main lobby for the health insurance industry. According to the Globe, Ignagni has been doing a decent job of convincing people that her lobby is not pure evil. She has also paid off quite a few politicians, says the Center for Responsive Politics in a recent blog post.
There’s no question who AHIP works for, though there’s some question as to who works for AHIP. Yesterday, noticing that Ignagni and the AHIP board had been added to LittleSis, but no other staff, I tried to find out who the key staffers at AHIP are, other than Ignagni.
I had more trouble than I expected, mostly because they don’t list staff on their website. Their about page links to a list of board members, but no staff — not even a profile of Ignagni.
It shouldn’t be so difficult to find out who leads — and lobbies on behalf of — an organization that is playing such an influential role in the healthcare debate. Do they want to avoid being identified by the very scary coalition they’re fighting? Or maybe they’re just bad at the intertubes?
To paraphrase @Matthew: when [AHIP] fails to open itself up, you find that people will open up [AHIP].
In the name of transparency, we’re going to spend the next few days tracking down the heaviest hitters at AHIP and profiling them on LittleSis. If you’d like to join in the effort, sign up as an analyst, check out our how-to, and then get to digging. To get started, try an employer donor lookup on Open Secrets, a lobbying search (at OS or the Senate database — do a registrant search for “America’s Health Insurance Plans”), or a LinkedIn search. And then, there’s always creative googling.
Beyond naming names, this should help us develop a better idea of which lawmakers AHIP is best positioned to influence — through campaign contributions, past employment, marriages, old school ties…the list goes on, and we’re on it.