Support for expanding access to health care—whether a Medicare for All plan or a public option for health insurance—is growing in public opinion polls, particularly among Democrats. Many of the Democratic candidates for president support it. This trend is bad news for the for-profit health care industry, and according to an investigation by The Intercept and Maplight, these companies are turning to dark money to fight it.

According to a Politico-Morning Consult poll from August, 65% of Democratic primary voters said they would support a candidate who implemented a single-payer, Medicare for All health insurance system. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in September found 77% of Democrats and independents who lean Democrat support such a plan. Even Republicans are slowly warming up to the concept; a survey from Real Clear Opinion Research in May found 65% of respondents, from both parties, were in support.

Investor-owned hospitals may not have public opinion on their side, so instead, they’re using money and influence to plead their case, as writer Andrew Perez found after reviewing corporate filings. He explains:

Tenet Healthcare, the nation’s third-largest investor-owned operator of hospitals, has donated nearly $630,000 to the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, or PAHCF, a dark-money organization created last year to erode public support for Medicare for All, a government-run plan that would provide health care for all Americans.

PAHCF’s incorporation records list a lobbyist for the Federation of American Hospitals, a trade organization that represents Tenet and other investor-owned hospitals, as one of its authorized representatives.

Chip Kahn, who created the infamous anti-Clinton administration health care ad “Harry and Louise,” took credit for starting PAHCF.

Perez also points out that while much of the fight against Medicare for All, or any plans to build a government health care system, has focused on private insurance and pharmaceutical companies, private hospitals are just as responsible for procedures, and the ensuing bills, that are plaguing so many Americans.

That includes the practice of “surprise billing,” which Perez explains “ occurs when a person visits a facility that’s included in their insurance network and is treated by an out-of-network provider. The massive bill, of course, is only a surprise to the patient.”

Private insurance is also lucrative for for-profit hospitals. Medicare covers just 87% of the actual cost of patient care. By contrast, a RAND study found, Tenet Healthcare, who has been funding anti-Medicare for All campaigns, charges 210% of what Medicare does.

Tenet CEO Ron Rittenmeyer, who is also the chairman of the Federation of American Hospitals, told attendees at an October health care conference that Medicare for All would be too expensive for private hospitals like his, because the reimbursement rate would be too low. At the same event, Rod Hochman, the chief executive of Providence St. Joseph Health, another large hospital company, called single-payer health care “idiocy,” according to ThinkAdvisor, a trade publication for investment advisers.

Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, who just so happens to serve on Tenet’s board of directors, called Medicare for All a “delusion,” in an op-ed in Omaha World-Herald.

Read the full story here.

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