AHIP funded small business's campaign against premium tax

America's Health Insurance Plans funded hundreds of thousands of dollars to a popular small-business trade association to help repeal the reform law's premium tax on insurers, the National Journal Daily reported.

AHIP paid $850,000 via back-channel methods to the National Federation of Independent Business so the politically and publicly popular group could prevent the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services from implementing the premium tax, which could cost insurers about $100 billion in the next 10 years.

NFIB opposes the premium tax because it expects insurers will pass down the additional tax costs, which could be as much as $400 in 2016 for a family, to small businesses owners and employees.

The National Journal Daily said that because the reform law doesn't require groups like AHIP to publicly disclose financial donations, the $850,000 funding was hard to track. But AHIP's tax forms in 2011 show an $850,000 advocacy expense, which the group said was for healthcare reform advocacy, including "grassroots outreach, education, and mobilization; print, online, and broadcast advertising; and coalition-building efforts" but that it "did not control or direct any of these activities."

Although neither AHIP nor NFIB officials would discuss the $850,000 payment, AHIP spokesman Robert Zirkelbach told the National Journal Daily that it has a "long-standing partnership with the small-business community to raise awareness of the harmful effects of the health insurance tax."

NFIB, meanwhile, is "very comfortable in engaging AHIP, particularly on this issue," lobbyist Amanda Austin said. "We may continue to partner on this and even broaden that partnership down the road."

AHIP previously gave business lobbying group U.S. Chamber of Commerce more than $86 million to oppose the reform law, while it pledged support for the health overhaul legislation, FierceHealthPayer reported.

To learn more:
- read the National Journal Daily article

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