By Tom Curry National affairs writer
msnbc.com
updated 11/3/2009 9:15:01 AM ET 2009-11-03T14:15:01

Claim: Sen. Joe Lieberman, who may help Republicans block insurance reform, is beholden to insurance companies.

Sen. Lieberman said last week a government-run plan "is a new entitlement program, and the taxpayers and the premium payers are going to end up paying for it, or else the debt's going to go higher, and that's just the wrong thing to do now." He said he'd vote to filibuster the bill, if necessary, to get the public plan removed. Lieberman's critics responded by accusing him of being beholden to insurance firms in his home state of Connecticut. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann said Lieberman was "whoring himself out to the members of the insurance cartel in his own state." The Nation's Ari Berman called Lieberman one of the "corporate Democrats, which should be an oxymoron. They'll do whatever the health care industry wants…." Insurance firms, such as Aetna, are major employers in Connecticut. Is Lieberman beholden to the insurance industry?

Fact or fiction?
Unclear. In 2006, Lieberman’s campaign received about $432,000 in contributions from political action committees (PACs) representing health insurance firms, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and other health industry interests. His campaign collected $216,000 in insurance PAC contributions, which accounted for one percent of his $19 million in total receipts. Lieberman said Sunday he wished his critics would stop "questioning my motives. If they looked at the record, I have never hesitated to get tough on insurance companies when I thought they were wrong. When I was attorney general of Connecticut I filed an antitrust action against the Connecticut insurance companies. A few years ago, when there was a patient bill of rights in the Senate, which the insurance companies opposed, I supported it.... I will support the removal of the antitrust exemption that insurance companies have."

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