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Health insurer sending millions to GOP

By Laurie Bennett

May 25, 2012 at 8:55am

Wellpoint Inc., a health insurance company opposing Obama health care policies, is devoting millions of dollars to help Republicans win election this year.

The company PAC has spent more than $807,000 this election cycle. Analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that 71 percent of the PAC’s spending has gone to Republican candidates.

In addition, the company is making large donations to Republican committees.

According to filings with the Internal Revenue Service, Wellpoint last year gave $760,000 to the Republican Governors Association and $1,505,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee. It contributed an additional $500,000 this year to the leadership committee, a GOP caucus that works to elect state-level candidates.

The company also maintains a major lobby presence in Washington, with lobby expenditures totalling nearly $4.7 million in 2011.

Wellpoint also has built-in government connections. Its board of directors includes Susan Bayh, wife of former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), and Sheila Burke, former secretary of the Senate and chief of staff to Bob Dole.

Former Sen. Donald Riegle of Michigan and William H.T. Bush, brother of former President George H.W. Bush were directors until last year.

With reported revenues of $60 billion last year, Wellpoint provides insurance to more than 65 million people. It’s a licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, providing insurance to members in 14 states.

The company has spoken against federalized health care, stating in its annual report: “We continue to believe health care is local and feel that we have the strong local presence required to understand and meet local customer needs.”

Angela Braly, the company’s chair, president and CEO, has been a critic of the Obama health care plan.

The company reported in its most recent proxy statement that “in light of concerns regarding the safety of Ms. Braly and her family as a result of the national health care debate,” it spent $7,939 on added security last year.

Braly’s compensation package totalled $13.3 million.

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