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Friday, April 29, 2005

VT-Gov: Jim Douglas

Posted by Bob Brigham

Vermont's Republican Governor Jim Douglas is threatening to veto legislation moving through the state legislature that would provide universal health care in Vermont. Gov. Douglas has been getting negative press for parroting insurance industry lies about the bill. Why is Douglas so opposed to this bill and to expanding access to health care in general? An in-depth look at his close ties to industries that oppose health care reform offers many clues.

WITHIN WEEKS OF BEING ELECTED, DOUGLAS MOVES TO GUT HEALTH CARE: Before Douglas even took office, the Associated Press reported that he said one of his priorities will be to "scale back some of the state health care programs that have been expanded over the past several years." Specifically, Douglas said he wants to scale back laws "in which the state requires insurers to price policies regardless of an individual's health status or age" – laws that advocates point out "makes insurance more affordable for the sick." [Source: AP, 12/19/02]

DOUGLAS'S TOP AIDE WAS BUSINESS LOBBYIST WHO FOUGHT HEALTH CARE REFORMS: The Burlington Free Press reported that Douglas's Deputy Chief of Staff, Betsy Bishop, is responsible for the governor's legislative agenda. Bishop was formerly a business lobbyist who, in 2002, actively lobbied against commonsense legislation to allow small businesses to participate in the state's health-care insurance program. [Sources: Burlington Free Press, 5/5/03 and 2/5/02]

DOUGLAS'S CAMPAIGNS FUNDED WITH INSURANCE INDUSTRY CASH: In 2004, Douglas relied on $300,000 worth of potentially-illegal ads by the Republican Governors Association – an organization funded with huge contributions from the health insurance industry. Research in 2002 showed that the RGA had accepted $671,000 from the insurance industry. [Source: Vermont Democratic Party research, 10/26/04]  

DOUGLAS HAS TRIED TO HIDE HIS RELIANCE ON INSURANCE INDUSTRY CASH: In 2004, Douglas claimed "90 percent" of his campaign cash came from in-state donors. He failed to mention the $300,000 cash infusion he received from the insurance-industry funded RGA. He also failed to mention that in 2002, his campaign pocketed more than $500,000 from the national Republican Party coffers that are regularly filled with health care/insurance industry cash. [Source: Inside Track, 3/30/05]

DOUGLAS'S HYPOCRISY ON HEALTH CARE CONTRIBUTIONS: In 1998, Bond Buyer magazine reported that Douglas was pushing a bill "to prohibit lawyers from making contributions to political campaigns of public officials with whom they may do business, in order to eliminate the appearance of pay-to-play." Yet, after his campaign relied on a warchest of insurance industry cash from the national Republican Party, Douglas is now threatening to veto critical health care legislation. [Source: Bond Buyer, 7/30/98]

Posted at 04:50 PM in Vermont | Technorati