Eyes on AHIP

Two weeks ago we started taking a closer look at America’s Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP. Since the organization’s website had no staff listing, we asked a simple question: who works for AHIP?

There’s still plenty of work to be done in filling out the profiles of the movers and shakers at the insurance industry lobby — board members, staff, and lobbyists on contract — and that work will continue, in addition to the research we’re collaborating on with the Huffington Post Investigative Fund. For now, here are some basic observations about the names and faces behind AHIP.

Organizations that dominate AHIP

AHIP is a large coalition of insurance companies, with around 60 board members, all representing different companies (and many more members). It connects a lot of different organizations (and not just insurance companies). One way to keep your eyes on the ties — and see which outside groups are most linked to AHIP — is the interlocks tab, which shows the organizations that AHIP leadership and staff are most connected to.

Based on our current data, UnitedHealth Group leads the pack, with four staff/directors linked to the company in some way. This shouldn’t be a major surprise, since it is the country’s largest health insurer. But WellPoint, second largest, is not nearly so well connected, with only one AHIP tie so far.

Aside from insurance companies, other institutions with strong ties to AHIP include the Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services (many staffers have moved through the revolving door from CMS) the Business Roundtable, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Tufts Health Care Institute.

The interlocks tab is a great tool for analyzing an organization’s or person’s place in the world, and as the data improves on LittleSis, it will only get better.

Politicians that inspire AHIP

If you go to the giving tab on AHIP’s profile you can see which politicians AHIP staff and leadership tend to give to the most. Two notables:

Nancy Johnson

Former Republican Rep Nancy Johnson is the top Congressional recipient on the list, apparently because she had a tough race in 2006 (and lost to the Democratic challenger). AHIP-linked folks that gave her money include Ronald A Williams, Jay M Gellert, Dean Rosen, Karen M Ignagni, Charles D Baker, Richard A Barasch, Jeannine M Rivet, and Rick L Haines.

They lost the race, quite badly. But Johnson joined them on the other side. Now she’s a lobbyist at Baker Donelson. Her lobbying relationships still need to be added to the database, but according to Open Secrets she takes care of many health care companies.

Ben Nelson

Nelson is the top Senator on the list. He didn’t have the electoral fight that Johnson had in 2006, but there had been rumors that he would face a serious contender. Either way, AHIP appears to have rallied around their candidate, with five members of the board and staff pitching in: Ronald A Williams, Karen M Ignagni, David H Klein, Richard L Richiski, Vicky B Gregg.

There are plenty of signs that Nelson remembers this support. Recently, the Senator from Nebraska has been making headlines for taking a stand and joining his friends at AHIP — and the rest of the insurance companies — in fighting the public option.

That’s not all — we’ll have more observations on AHIP’s ties in the coming days.