Humana, Aetna Poured $$$ to Walker

April 21, 2016

Medical Costs

Gov. Scott Walker received nearly $36,800 in contributions from employees of Aetna and Humana, and from a Humana political action committee over the last five years.  The Walker administration recently gave a nod to the merger of the two giant health insurers.

Humana agreed last July to be acquired by Aetna for $37 billion in a deal that would create the second-largest managed-care company in the United States. The deal must also be approved by insurance regulators in about 20 states, including Wisconsin, where the companies do business. Then, the U.S. Justice Department must give the merger final approval.

Attorneys general in 15 states have joined a federal Justice Department antitrust investigation of the Aetna-Humana merger and another merger involving Anthem and Cigna. Wisconsin is not one of those states.

After a public hearing last month, State Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel, who was appointed by Walker, approved the merger without meaningful conditions allowed under Wisconsin law, according to consumer advocate Citizen Action of Wisconsin.

Before the hearing, a group of 18 organizations asked Nickel to prohibit the merged company from cutting any of the 3,700 current Humana employees in Wisconsin and to impose conditions on any increases in health insurance premiums, as well as to require the new company to lower premiums or deductibles if the merger results in a cost savings.

Before becoming state insurance commissioner in 2011, Nickel worked in the insurance industry for nearly 20 years, including as a board member of the Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, the industry’s main state lobbying group.

Employees of Aetna and Humana and Humana’s political action committee (PAC) contributed $36,765 to Walker between January 2011 and December 2015. The companies’ top contributors to Walker were Humana Inc. PAC, $23,000; Joseph Zubretsky, of Deep River, Conn., Aetna’s chief financial officer, $5,000; and Ralph Wilson, of Louisville, Ken. a Humana vice president and legal counsel, $2,250.

Overall, the companies’ employees and Humana Inc. PAC contributed nearly $146,000 between January 2011 and December 2015 to all legislative and statewide candidates in Wisconsin. All but $5,700 of those contributions came from Humana.