To the dismay of her constituents, Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) refuses to get behind a Medicare-for-All healthcare system. And it just so happens that she has accepted massive contributions from healthcare lobbyists also opposed to such a program, a deep dive into her campaign financing has revealed.
Bucking growing momentum in support of a national single-payer system, as well as a trailblazing effort within her home state, Feinstein told San Francisco voters during a town hall earlier this month: "If single-payer healthcare is going to mean the complete takeover by the government of all healthcare, I am not there."
As Common Dreams reported, her remarks were met with boos and chants of "single-payer now!"
At a second town hall a few days later, when asked if she would sponsor Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) pending Medicare-for-All bill, she dismissed the effort as "a takeover of all medicine in the United States."
On Tuesday, the money in politics watchdog MapLight revealed that less than a week after those raucous meetings, Feinstein attended "a fundraising event at the Washington, D.C., office of Avenue Solutions, a lobbying firm that represents major health insurers, pharmaceutical companies and the primary trade association for doctors."
According to reporter Andrew Perez, "Feinstein supporters at the event were expected to kick in $1,000 to $5,000 for her re-election bid." Meaning that Feinstein, who is running for her fifth full Senate term, pocketed thousands from industry groups historically and vocally opposed to a government-run, universal healthcare system—at the same time that a popular push for such a program has never been stronger.
Last month, an Economist/You Gov poll (pdf) found that 61 percent of Americans say they support "creating a federally funded health insurance system that covered every American." At the same time, legislation to create such a program has reached a record 104 co-sponsors in the U.S. House.
According to MapLight's review of campaign finance data, Feinstein has raised over $592,000 from lobbyists and political action committees since 2013. From January to March alone, her campaign committee has $655,822 in donations, more than $180,000 of which came from lobbyists and political action groups. Notably, Perez reports, "Her campaign saw substantial support from the healthcare industry during that time."
Recent donors to Feinstein include former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who lobbies for Blue Cross Blue Shield Association; Brian Griffin, who represents the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA); and Fred Graefe, who lobbies for the Federation of American Hospitals. She also received donations from political action committees run by PhRMA and pharmaceutical companies Merck & Co., Amgen, and AbbVie.
During her previous re-election campaign, the senior U.S. senator from California raised nearly $10 million, MapLight notes, with lobbyists comprising the "fifth-largest source of campaign revenue."