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Health Insurers Sending their Money to GOP

A Capitol Hill police officer stands between protesters for and against the health care reform bill as the House prepares to vote on the bill in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sunday, March 21, 2010. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

The health insurance industry this year has been rerouting its financial support from Democrats to Republicans, according to reports -- a move that mirrors the industry's transformation from a backer of President Obama's health care reforms to an adversary.

The nation's five largest insurers and the industry's lobbying arm have this year given three times more money to Republican politicians and political action committees than to Democrats, the Los Angeles Times reports. The industry is also reportedly spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on Washington lobbyists with ties to Republicans.

The insurance industry initially cooperated with the president to try to bring down health care costs. However, at the height of the intense partisan debate that erupted in August of 2009 over health care reform, the partnership between Democrats and the industry broke down. Insurance companies began urging their employees and customers to oppose the reforms, while Democrats began casting the industry as the enemy.

That turning point also marks the point at which the industry began consistently donating more to Republicans than Democrats, Politico reports. In the two years prior to that point, Democrats had reportedly received the bulk of the industry's donations.

Health professionals have also become the biggest supporters of House members in the Tea Party Caucus, according to Politico, donating more than $2.7 million to members in the new group, which coalesced largely around opposition to the president's health care overhaul.

Republicans have campaigned aggressively this year on the promise of "repealing and replacing" health care reform, even though a repeal effort is unlikely to succeed. The GOP could, however, chip away at the law by defunding the programs it establishes.

The insurance industry, meanwhile, has pushed back in its own ways, such as blaming the new regulations for its proposed rate increases.


Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.