November 13, 2009
Companies Are Asked to Distance Themselves From Chamber on Health Care Reform
by Robert Kropp
A letter from 60 members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility asks 36 companies
that have supported the principles of healthcare reform to publicly state their disagreement with
the US Chamber of Commerce's opposition.
Much attention has been given in recent months to the US Chamber of Commerce's lobbying efforts to
derail meaningful climate change legislation, as departures from Chamber membership by such
high-profile firms as Apple have been widely reported by the media.
Due at least in large part to the dues paid by its
millions of members, the Chamber has pockets deep enough to direct its lobbying efforts at more
than one target at a time, and its Campaign for Responsible Health Reform serves as
a front for its efforts to defeat what it repeatedly and incorrectly describes as "government-run
health care" legislation.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Chamber has spent $39
million during the third quarter of 2009 alone, in its efforts to defeat legislative proposals that
include healthcare reform.
As with the issue of climate change, the positions of members
of the Chamber are hardly in lockstep with the Chamber in its efforts to defeat healthcare reform
legislation. Many high-profile firms, including Merck, Wal-Mart, McDonald's, AT&T, IBM, and General
Electric, have issued public statements in support of the principles of healthcare reform.
Thirty-six Chamber members that have publicly supported these principles were targeted this week by
a letter from the Interfaith Center on Corporate
Responsibility (ICCR), asking them to clarify whether or not the Chamber speaks for them on
health care reform and, if not, to make a public statement to that effect."
of ICCR's members on the issue of healthcare reform was clarified in a statement entitled ICCR
Health Care Principles. The principles advocated by ICCR member include affordable quality
health care for all, access to health care regardless of health or financial circumstances,
accountability by all stakeholders for the health care system, and shared responsibility for
which was signed by 60 of ICCR's 275 faith-based institutional investor members, states, "We have
come to the conclusion that some kind of public option or an effective equivalent is necessary." It
describes the Chamber's "deliberate mischaracterization of the health reform proposals" as
The letter asks the 36 companies if they agree with the Chamber's
campaign in opposition to health care reform, if they will publicly distance themselves from the
Chamber's position, and how they plan to contribute in a constructive way to the health care
Laura Berry, Executive Director of ICCR, said, "This letter reflects years of
patient shareholder engagement, to help advance the thinking of top US firms on healthcare reform."
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