Thursday, August 30, 2007

Who spent $83,959,239 in 6 months to 'educate' policy-makers and the public!!

If you answered Big Pharma and Associates, you're Right!!

Special thanks go to the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 which allows public access to records of lobbying activity on Capitol Hill.

Between January 1, 2007 and June 30, 2007, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) invested at least $13,213,600 in congressional lobbying efforts, $2,525,000 of which was expended through outside firms on PhRMA's behalf. That's an expensive average $2,202,800 per month for "winning advocacy for public policies..."

Independently, PhRMA member companies spent an additional $67,954,211 during the same time period. Other organizations (ie. pharmaceutical companies, professional associations, county health departments, hospitals, universities, and special interest groups), not directly affiliated with PhRMA, spent $2,793,428 on congressional lobbying. These interested parties monitor healthcare issues, seek to educate officials, and influence legislation regarding Medicare , S-CHIP, drug importation, drug-price negotiation, intellectual property rights, government appropriations, health information technology, and healthcare reform, to name a few issues.

Total spent: $83,959,239

So what's the Return-On-Investment?

Obviously, investment in public policy must be financially advantageous for corporations and their stockholders, otherwise resources would be put to work elsewhere. We often hear how CEOs of the big pharmaceutical companies or of the health insurance corporations are making millions of dollars each year for overseeing these profitable businesses. The business of Health Care in America must be thriving with so much financial influence to fling around.


That's what the American free-market is all about...profit. If an entity is profitable, it is deemed successful and becomes a magnet for investors, which then helps the original entity be more successful and thus more profitable. The cycle is vicious and much so that public policies are often influenced by successful businesses, or industries, in an attempt to shape the rules of play, stacking the deck in their favor, and preserving opportunities to increase profitability.

Increasingly, elected and appointed officials who are the architects of the playing field and authors of the playbook leave public service to join the game. For a blatant example of public service leading to personal wealth, one only has to look to former U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin who now heads PhRMA. As Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (HCEC), Tauzin was instrumental in getting the Medicare Drug Act of 2003 passed which increased the role of private insurance in providing drug coverage to medicare beneficiaries while prohibiting government from participating in free-market tactics of negotiating prices.

Before Tauzin officially took the reins of PhRMA, Public Citizen commented on the turn of events in a Dec 2004 report, Washington's "Revolving Door" is Spinning Out of Control. "The selection of outgoing U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) to be president of the pharmaceutical industry’s main lobbying group is yet another example of how public service is leading to private riches, Public Citizen said today."


Another example of Washington's "Revolving Door" can be found in a new private equity fund, Health Evolution Partners. On June 7, 2007, The New York Times published an article, "Venture Fund to Seek Out Cost Cutters in Health Care," by Steve Lohr. Dr. David J. Brailer, a former senior health official in the Bush administration, founded Health Evolution Partners, with an initial investment of $700,000,000 from CalPERS (California Public Employees' Retirement System).

Read the June 5, 2007 Press Release. To accomplish the goal of "realizing value in health care," Health Evolution Partners "brings together financial capital with deep industry know-how to help companies improve their business strategies, achieve large-scale commercial success and set new benchmarks for financial performance."

More on Dr. Bailer coming soon.


Commercial Success and Financial Performance

That's truly what is driving health care in America...MONEY!! As long as profit is the driver, concern for the health and security of American citizens will be secondary at best.

Physical Health, Emotional Health, Financial Health

Weakness in one too often causes weakness in all!!!

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