Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Clinton Campaign Behind on Staff Health Care Benefits

Today, we are going to take a look at an aspect of the ongoing debate about health care amongst the U.S. Presidential candidates that is, for a change, new.

Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel broke this news:

Among the debts reported this month by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s struggling presidential campaign, the $292,000 in unpaid health insurance premiums for her campaign staff stands out.
Since health care reform is a major plank in Senator Clinton's campaign, this news has great potential to damage her efforts and credibility on that front.

Clinton campaign spokesman Jay Carson assured Politico that there was no interruption in staff benefits as a result of this situation. He also stated that Aetna Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield, the health care providers for campaign staff, had been paid in full this month.
“Sometimes invoices are not paid immediately because we need additional information for our records, or to verify expenses,” Carson said in a statement e-mailed to Politico. “Sometimes invoices arrive at the very end of the month at the cutoff of the reporting period, which means that we are required to report them as a debt on the current FEC report, even where they are paid in regular course during the next month.”

But the unpaid bills to Aetna were at least two months old, according to FEC filings.

They show the campaign ended last year owing Aetna more than $213,000 for “employee benefits.”

During the first two months of the year, the campaign did not pay down any of that debt. In fact, it accrued another $16,000 in unpaid bills last month, and it finished the month owing Aetna $229,000.
Just like any other business, the Clinton Campaign faces employee benefits as one of their most major expenditures. Also just like other businesses, it is not uncommon to carry an unpaid balance from month to month. Carson emphasized that the campaign follows normal business practices in dealing with their bills, which are paid "regularly."

By contrast, Senator McCain had no unpaid health provider bills as of the end of February, and Senator Obama had a balance of $908 owed to AIG American International Group for "insurance." The contrast is already being touted across media and internet sources.

In a race that involves the issue of universal health care as a fundamental component, this news has potential to upset the political apple cart in fairly short order.

SOURCE: "Clinton didn't pay health insurance bills" 03/31/08
photo courtesy of Center for American Progress Action Fund , used under this Creative Commons license

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