Richard Burr and the Health Care Industry

Although he has many competitors, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is second to none in distorting the facts about health care reform. In just the past two months, he has repeated false claims about the bills under consideration, including the statements that the bills do not cover all Americans and that proposed insurance reforms are limited to preventing discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. But it’s not hard to understand why Sen. Burr would fudge the truth: he has received significant campaign contributions from a health insurance industry desperately opposed to any changes to the status quo.

According to data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Sen. Burr has received $274,586 in campaign contributions from the health insurance industry throughout his career.

  • Sen. Burr’s most generous donors include Blue Cross Blue Shield, whose political action committee has given him $58,240 in donations throughout his career. The insurer’s executives and employees have contributed an additional $10,000. [Center for Responsive Politics]

Sen. Burr relies on health insurance lobbyists to raise money for his campaigns.

  • According to data from the Sunlight Foundation’s PoliticalPartyTime.com, lobbyists from the Petrizzo Strategic Group hosted a fundraising dinner for Sen. Burr on October 28, 2009. The firm’s current clients include health insurer Medica Healthcare Plans. [Political Party Time]
  • On June 23, 2009, the lobbying firm Akin Gump Strauss Heuer & Feld hosted a fundraiser for Sen. Burr. The firm’s clients include insurer Santa Clara Family Health Plan. [Political Party Time]

Sen. Burr has been a leading purveyor of distortion and misrepresentation about health insurance reform

  • In an interview with Fox News in September, Sen. Burr claimed that “no plan, currently considered or passed, in either the House or the Senate,” extends coverage to all Americans. However, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that House bill would cover 97 percent of Americans. [North Carolina Policy Watch, September 30, 2009]
  • In a November radio interview with radio host Bill LuMaye, Sen. Burr said about the House bill, “It doesn’t have reforms in it. The only reform that’s really there is that we do away with preexisting conditions.” In truth, however, the bill contains numerous other insurance reforms, including caps on out of pocket expenses and lifetime limits, as well as market accountability through health insurance exchanges. [North Carolina Policy Watch, November 17, 2009]