MapLight investigates money behind Senate health care bill

June 21, 2017

Last month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell selected a small group of senators to draft a bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. This bill, now known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), would have caused as many as 14 million Americans to lose their health insurance coverage next year.

MapLight followed the money and found that the senators crafting the bill collected an average of $214,000 in campaign contributions from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries between November 2010 and November 2016—nearly double the amount received by their colleagues who were excluded from the process. Legislators’ access to the drafting process was so limited that when Senator Lisa Murkowski was asked if she had seen any of the text of the bill, she said “I am not reporter, and I am not a lobbyist, so I have seen nothing.”

In addition, another MapLight investigation, conducted in partnership with the International Business Times, found that a secretive nonprofit known as the American Action Network (AAN), a group closely linked to House Speaker Paul Ryan, has been playing a pivotal role in supporting Republican candidates and policies, including the AHCA, since the November election.

Our investigation revealed that the AAN has donated more than $6.5 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a super PAC that has been the top-spending outside organization this year, pouring almost $10 million into GOP special election victories in Georgia and Montana. The network has also spent at least $5.6 million on ads to boost the AHCA.

Our research on the money behind the AHCA was featured prominently in Every Voice and ReThink Media’s daily clips emails and Stamp Stampede’s newsletter. Our findings were also cited in Newsweek, Death and Taxes, and Common Dreams, and they circulated widely on social media, where a MapLight tweet was retweeted 82 times and an OpenSecrets tweet was retweeted 73 times.