A number of high-profile Senate Democrats have voiced their support for Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” bill that he unveiled on Wednesday, but some establishment Democrats have been reluctant to do so.
Among those who equivocated on or declined to endorse Sanders’ step towards a single payer healthcare system are Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton’s former running mate Tim Kaine and Claire McCaskill of Missouri. Otherwise, Sanders’ bill has support from around one-third of Senate Democrats and polls show more and more Democratic voters are getting behind the idea.
While it’s hard to imply causation or know just how beholden lawmakers are to their donors, campaign finance records show that some of the Senators reluctant to back the plan do have significant financial ties to the corporate healthcare industry, which has enjoyed record profits in the last few years under the Affordable Care Act. Here’s a quick look into some of those connections:
According to OpenSecrets.org, Kaine — who said he at least would welcome Sanders’ bill to the floor for debate — has already received more than $39,000 between 2013-2018 from health insurance giant Centene Corporation, which has an anti-single payer superdelegate on its board who brushed off the idea at a recent company forum.
And according to FollowTheMoney.org, Kaine has received a total of $1,377,176 in contributions from the insurance industry, $1,125,796 from the health services industry, $1,364,525 from the pharmaceutical and health products industry, $2,306,155 from health professionals, and $1,965,540 from hospitals and nursing homes.
McCaskill, who said she would not be supporting Sanders’ bill, is also connected to Centene, which has contributed $99,670 to her coffers from 2013-2018. In fact, the health insurance firm is her top contributor for that time period.
From 2011-2016, records show that McCaskill received $81,058 from Express Scripts — and more than $150,000 overall — which is the largest pharmacy benefit management organization in the country. In other words, the company oversees prescription drug programs for health plans, including MediCare.
Regarding its political donations, Express Scripts has noted that “Contributions are disbursed according to the following criteria…Has the candidate voted for or announced positions on issues important to Express Scripts and our plan sponsors and patients?…Has the candidate demonstrated leadership on key committees of importance to our business?” The company has largely favored Republicans over Democrats.
According to FollowTheMoney.org, McCaskill has received $212,108 from the insurance industry, $94,458 from health services, $242,567 from health professionals, and $282,120 from hospitals and nursing homes.
Schumer has raked in a whopping $932,055 in contributions from the insurance industry, though his larger donors in that category are from the life insurance sector. But Schumer has also received $493,861 from health professionals, $436,725 from hospitals and nursing homes, and $411,650 from the pharmaceutical and health products industry.