News & Politics

Bill Clinton Is the Keynote Speaker for the Health Insurance Lobby Bash in Nashville

Clinton's cozy relationship with the group that killed the 'public option' seems ill-timed.

The Clintons made over $100 million from paid speeches to domestic and foreign corporations since the year 2000. Much of this money came from Wall Street banks, health care companies, and other corporations with interests before the government – raising concerns about influence-buying.

After Hillary Clinton formally announced her own presidential run, Bill Clinton was asked whether he would continue to do paid speeches to groups that have interests before the government. He replied that he would, because “I gotta pay our bills.”

This week, the nature of paying the Clintons' bills will take the form of keynoting the Nashville conference of the America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the chief lobbying group for the health insurance industry.

Clinton will serve as the keynote speaker on Friday, in a session AHIP's schedule strictly rules that “no press” is allowed – meaning that we will have no idea what Bill Clinton plans to say to the insurers' lobby.

Interestingly, while Clinton is the main event, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will speak at the conference the day before. His speech is titled: “Shaping America's Future: Major Trends, New Ideas, and Big Decisions.”

This isn't actually the first time Clinton spoke to AHIP. In June of 2010, just months after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, the former president took $175,000 from the group for a speech at one of their events.

Recall that AHIP played the primary role in killing the public health insurance option and trying to sink the Affordable Care Act altogether. It was estimated to have funneled around $100 million into the Chamber of Commerce's scorched earth campaign to defeat the legislation.

Today, AHIP continues to advocate for deregulation of the health care market and to fight any move towards a more comprehensive and efficient system, such as an expansion of Medicare. By any measure, it stands completely opposed to the progressive health care agenda, which raises questions about why Clinton sees it as an appropriate outlet on his speech circuit.

 

Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.

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