Yesterday I reported how Missouri Senator Mike Parson had introduced a bill, SB 456, which would backdoor Medicaid expansion as per Obamacare—despite Missouri’s history with Obamacare. Why? Parson represents Missouri’s 28th district, the largest employer in his district being a hospital. Parson’s biggest campaign contributors came from the health care sector and Parson also received a sizable campaign donation from the Missouri Hospital Association.
It explains why Parson was susceptible to the MHA’s lobbying efforts to expand Obamacare. From Timothy Carney, my emphasis:
These pro-exchange health-industry companies also poured money into legislative campaigns. Comb through the campaign finance disclosures of most Idaho state senators and you’ll see gifts from drugmakers (GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer), insurers (Blue Cross of Idaho and PacificSource Health Plans) and industry groups (Idaho Hospital Association, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and the Idaho Health Care Association). All these companies benefit from a state-run exchange.
Pearce thinks this industry push helped persuade Republicans to overcome their general opposition to Obamacare and big government.
What do the companies stand to gain? Insurers and providers both benefit from the federal subsidies that come with a state exchange. Insurers also get protection from competition: Stricter rules keep out new entrants, and some supporters made explicitly protectionist arguments. For example, Sen. John Goedde, an insurance agent, argued that “Idaho’s insurance industry would lose out under a federal exchange, which likely would focus on national companies rather than Idaho insurers,” as the Idaho Spokesman-Review paraphrased it.
In Missouri, the Medicaid Expansion Coalition includes the Missouri Hospital Association, Missouri Association of Health Plans, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and many local chambers. Patrick Ishmael of the conservative Show-Me Institute told me in an email, “t’s pretty clear in my conversations that Chamber support for the expansion is weighing on conservative legislators.”
This is a familiar story. Republicans tend to drop their opposition to big government when big business pushes them hard enough. We’ve seen it in Washington: The two biggest expansions of government under President George W. Bush were the 2008 Wall Street bailout and the 2004 expansion of Medicare to cover prescription drugs—both of which had firm business support.
Obama always had the hospitals and drugmakers on his side in passing Obamacare through Congress. Now these industries are pushing the law through state capitals, too.
The bill was expected to go to the committee to offer it the least resistance, the carefully curated Government Accountability and Fiscal Oversight (GAFO), which Parson also chairs. After outrage yesterday Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey informed me that the bill instead would be scuttled to another committee.
Will this be the end of Obamacare in Missouri and other states where voters have fought back? Not likely. These lobbyist groups will stop at nothing to see it implemented which means we must be ever vigilant.