Chamber Will Support Repeal Effort After Saying It Would Stay Out

January 11, 2011 4:25 pm ET — Walid Zafar

US Chamber of Commerce

When the Affordable Care Act passed last March, the powerful Chamber of Commerce initially ruled out any future efforts in support of repeal. "If people want to try and repeal, let them," Thomas Donahue, the Chamber's president, told the Wall Street Journal. "We're not going to spend any capital on that." During the midterm elections, however, the Chamber ran more than 25,000 ads, almost all of them against Democrats and most of those demonizing the candidates' support for health care reform.

Now, with their party in control of the House, the Chamber, despite Donahue's comments last year, is backing full repeal of the bill.

Sam Stein reports:

Nearly 10 months after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's preeminent business lobby, said it would not spend money to push for repeal of last year's sweeping health care law, Chamber President Tom Donohue said Tuesday that President Barack Obama's signature legislation should be overturned.

Delivering the annual State of American Business address less than a month before Obama himself is slated to speak at the Chamber's D.C. headquarters, Donohue gave little indication that his lobby would be content to see the health care legislation stand.

"The new health care law, think about this for a minute, creates, creates 159 new agencies, commissions, panels, and other bodies. It grants extraordinary powers to the Department of Health and Human Services to redefine health care as we know it," the Chamber president said.

The 'redefinition' that Donahue deplores is one that views health care as a comprehensive right, a definition that by its very nature hurts the bottom line of the health insurance industry. During the debate over reform, the country's most profitable insurance companies, including Aetna, Humana, and UnitedHealth poured more than $86 million into the Chamber's effort to destroy health care reform. The insurance industry gave that money to the Chamber in the hopes that the definition of health care would continue to be the one that's most profitable for them.

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