The money the health insurance industry paid to lobby against health care reform is eliciting criticism.

Bloomberg reports that health insurers spent $86 million to blunt health care reform passage in 2009. The money was allegedly funneled through America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)] to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which paid for polling and advertisements attacking the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  

The size of the effort if not the revelation itself, drew criticism from both consumer advocates and the Obama Administration.

“Insurance companies and their allies were desperate to preserve their ability to discriminate against you if you had a preexisting condition, drop your care when you got sick and limit the amount of care you could receive in a year or a lifetime,” Assistant to the President for Special Projects Stephanie Cutter wrote in a posting on the White House blog. “Thankfully, they didn’t succeed, but some folks still want to take us back to the bad old days when insurance companies had all the power and doctors and patients took a back seat.”

The news of the payments casts statements made by AHIP during the crafting of health care reform in a different light. “Health plans strongly support comprehensive, bipartisan health care reform and have proposed sweeping insurance market reforms and new consumer protections to ensure that every American has guaranteed access to affordable health care coverage,” AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni said in statement in October 2009. “As the process progresses, health plans will continue to work to advance bipartisan legislation this year that will cover all Americans, make coverage more affordable, and improve quality.”

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