Political action committees connected to the health industry gave a combined $71,000 to U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ successful re-election effort, according to the Chattanooga TFP. But at least six PACs that gave to DesJarlais’ 2012 campaign, including local insurance giants BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and Unum, said they won’t give again in 2014. “Anytime you support someone, you have an association with them,” BlueCross spokesman Roy Vaughn said. “That becomes difficult if their behavior is something that doesn’t reflect well on your organization.”
Another half-dozen PACs representing health professionals, hospitals, nursing homes and health insurance companies said they haven’t decided on DesJarlais. The remaining 15 that donated to the physician-turned-congressman did not respond to a Chattanooga Times Free Press inquiry.
DesJarlais said he plans to seek a third term in 2014.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has formed a political action committee to lobby the federal government, reports the Chattanooga TFP. The move comes with PACs in the health more than doubling their contributions to federal candidates in the last 10 years. The Chattanooga-based organization already had a state PAC and contributed to BlueCross BlueShield’s national federal PAC, spokeswoman Mary Danielson said in an email.
The organization sent out a fundraising letter to about 2,500 of its 5,300 employees statewide earlier this month, asking for contributions to both its state TPAC and federal BluePac.
“As you are well aware, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, we are in a new political environment of opportunities and challenges for our company and industry,” the letter from CEO Vicky Gregg says. “Your support of our PAC is important in giving us an opportunity to help determine who will govern us and who will set the business climate in which we operate.”
The letter includes suggested monthly contribution levels for managers, directors and vice presidents. The suggested amounts range from $10 to $50 per month for the newly created BluePac and $10 to $75 per month for TPAC
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee’s inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender business owners in a push for supplier diversity is generating fire and brimstone from a conservative Christian advocacy group headed by former state Sen. David Fowler…. and Andy Sher has the story. In an email, the one-time Signal Mountain attorney who is now president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee accuses the Chattanooga-based insurer of having “officially joined the ‘culture wars’ with a quiet little move.”
“Appears that the insurer is trading in its traditional blue for a rainbow of colors,” jabbed Fowler, alluding to the color blue BlueCross uses in promotions and the multicolored gay-pride flag.
He cites an Aug. 24 letter BlueCross sent to company suppliers. In it, BlueCross states the company, through its Supplier Diversity Team, is “passionately adopting the spirit of diversity within its supplier business relationships,” including lesbian-, gay-, bisexual- and transgender-owned businesses.
Fowler said that if BlueCross is “so passionate” about the issue, “where were the press releases? Maybe they didn’t want to be too ‘loud’ about it because they didn’t want all their conservative, pro-family premium payers to realize that their premium dollars were going to support the advancement and cultural acceptance of homosexual conduct.”
…BlueCross spokeswoman Mary Danielson said diversity outreach is nothing new for the nonprofit insurers, which has private pay customers but also extensive state and federal government contracts.
“BlueCross is committed to supplier diversity as a good business practice,” Danielson said by email. “As part of that effort we regularly mail a supplier self certification form to our 3,000 vendors. We mail this form to update their business classification records in our system. Those classifications, provided by the federal government, cover a range of groups.
“Additionally,” Danielson said, “maintaining accurate vendor record information is a federal requirement when serving as a government contractor.”
..(Fowler) speculated that BlueCross’ move may stem from what he says was a backlash from national gay organizations this spring after the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed a Fowler-generated bill that banned cities from enacting ordinances banning anti-gay discrimination by local government-contractors.