Former Vice President Joe Biden has largely been silent in the Medicare for All debate, but one of his chief supporters is a leader of perhaps the biggest anti-Medicare for All lobbying group in Washington.
As Grit Post previously reported, Joe Biden’s first official campaign fundraiser is a $2,800 per-plate event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania featuring Senator Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) and multiple members of Congress. An invitation advertising the event obtained by Politico’s Holly Otterbein shows that one of the co-hosts of the event is Daniel Hilferty — CEO of Independence Health Group.
Here’s the invitation for Joe Biden’s fundraiser tomorrow night in Philadelphia. Of note: @SenBobCasey and six Democratic members of the Pennsylvania House delegation are expected to join. pic.twitter.com/XeDlJibS61
— Holly Otterbein (@hollyotterbein) April 25, 2019
Hilferty also serves on the board of directors for America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the top DC lobbyist for the for-profit private health insurance industry. As The Intercept reported in 2018, AHIP was not only one of the key groups that stood in the way of the Affordable Care Act during President Barack Obama’s first term, but has since joined a coalition opposed to Medicare for All in 2020. In February, both AHIP and the Federation for American Hospitals came out against Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-Washington) Medicare for All legislation in the House.
AHIP is also seeking to influence the debate over Medicare for All within the Democratic Party. Intercept reporters Lee Fang and Nick Surgey wrote that AHIP hired a consulting firm specifically “to develop an effort to label any government-run insurance option as an existential threat to Democratic political goals,” and the group has been a top donor for centrist Democratic groups like the New Democrats PAC and the Blue Dog PAC. Biden is no stranger to health insurance money, receiving $279,500 from insurance industry donors throughout his Senate career.
As a lobbyist, AHIP has not held back in spending vast sums of money to make sure Congress protects the interests of health insurers. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, AHIP has spent $94.2 million on lobbying Congress between 2008 and 2018.
Healthcare was the biggest issue that drove voters to the polls in 2018, in which Democrats — many of whom ran on Medicare for All — netted a whopping 40 seats in the House of Representatives. It stands to reason healthcare will continue to be a top issue again in 2020. Given the health insurance industry’s support of Joe Biden throughout his career, it isn’t likely the former vice president will be a backer of Medicare for All in his fourth presidential run.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.