September 10, 2010

 

Koch Industries Fought the Health Care Law, But Sought Funds From It
by Marian Wang | ProPublica

(Sept. 1, 2010) In a post last week, we noted that David Koch, an American businessman and philanthropist, has given millions to cancer research (www.propublica.org/blog/item/company-owned-by-cancer-research-donor-lobbied-against-designation-of-forma) while his company, Koch Industries (based in Wichita, KS) lobbied against formal recognition of formaldehyde as a carcinogen.

In a post today, Think Progress’ Wonk Room pointed out another seeming contradiction:

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the “first round of applicants accepted into the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program,” a $5 billion program established by the new health care law to help employers and states “maintain coverage for early retirees age 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare.” According to the agency, “nearly 2,000 employers, representing large and small businesses, State and local governments, educational institutions, non-profits, and unions” applied and have been accepted into the program and “will begin to receive reimbursements for employee claims this fall.”

Ironically, one of those employers is the oil, chemicals, and manufacturing conglomerate Koch Industries.

Koch Industries, on its website, took a public position (www.kochind.com/ViewPoint/HealthCare.aspx) opposing health care reform:

Koch Industries' point of view regarding health care has nothing to do with political parties and everything to do with our fundamental principles. As a matter of principle, should government mandate prices and control access to doctors and hospitals? Is government an efficient health-care administrator? What's more, is it morally right to run up billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities by promising entitlements for everyone? The principled, market-based answer is no.

So did David Koch, a co-owner of the company. In an editorial posted on the company website (www.kochind.com/Perspectives/perspectives_detail.aspx?id=15), he warned that the U.S. health care system was “under fierce attack,” and cautioned against “a government takeover of health care,” “further socialization of our health care system,” and “an over-reaching government that insists on encroaching into every aspect of our personal lives – especially health care.” (We've invited Koch Industries to comment and will update if the company has a response.)

Criticism of the health care law, however, does not seem to have prevented Koch Industries from applying for funds under the law — but that’s nothing new.

As The Associated Press reported today, more than a half-dozen states that are suing the federal government to overturn the health care law are also claiming its subsidies (www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g8ZwV-5Izc-NwpELCsVVDK9vRWagD9HUIG001) for covering retired state government employees.

Update: Koch Industries came back to us with a response. Here it is, in full:

History shows that when people get to decide to spend their resources on products and services they value, you get innovation, efficiency, and the greatest quality-of-life improvements in a society. That's why we consistently favor market-based policy solutions and oppose mandates and subsidies.

However, once laws or programs are enacted we will not place ourselves or our employees at a disadvantage by turning our back on incentives offered to our competitors.


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