Report: UnitedHealth Urges Employees To Lobby Senate, Oppose Reform

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Minnesota-based UnitedHealth has sent its 75,000 employees nationwide an email urging them to contact their senators to oppose pending health reform legislation even providing a two form letters, with one attacking the public option.

In addition, the insurer also urged its employees to write letters to their local newspapers and share the letters with its lobbying arm, United for Health Reform, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

A UnitedHealth spokesman told the newspaper that the insurer was explicit in pointing out that participation was “voluntary” and a tool to guide employees seeking direction on how they can get involved.

This week, the Senate is expected to finalize a comprehensive health reform bill for debate. The bill is expected to include a federal public insurance option where states can opt into the program, according to media reports.

If passed, the Senate version would have to be joined with legislation already passed by the House for submission to President Barack Obama, who seeks a final bill by the end of this year.

One of the form letters for employees to send to their senators says a proposed government-run health insurance program “will result in millions of Americans not being able to keep their current coverage and will lead to unintended consequences of higher premiums and less choice,” according to the newspaper.

The letter continues to state that while the author is writing as an individual and expressing their own opinion, “I work at UnitedHealth Group, a company that has proposed market reforms that will guarantee quality, affordable, portable coverage for all, regardless of gender, health status, or pre- existing conditions,” according to the Star-Tribune.

The letters were recently made public by Consumer Watchdog, a California-based consumer advocacy group, which has accused UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint of asking their employees to lobby against health reform efforts during business hours.

While UnitedHealth told the Star-Tribune employees were free to edit the form letters, Consumer Watchdog said it would be unlikely for employees to take such action.

“No United HealthCare employee would modify the lobbying letter to favor Medicare-for-All, or even a modest public option, knowing that his or her managers may be reading that e-mail,” said Judy Dugan, research director for Consumer Watchdog, in a statement. “They wouldn’t dare to speak against the company position unless they’ve already got a new job lined up.”

Consumer Watchdog
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