PhRMA Targets Hagan

Fresh on the heels of the full page "biopharm" healthcare reform ad this week PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, ran an ad targeting Senator Kay Hagan that blanketed the Sunday morning TV news shows including our local NC Spin. Ostensibly an ad thanking Hagan for actions on healthcare reform the ad contains the same coded language about doctors and patients that is the nod and wink to signal PhRMA's opposition to a public option as part of healthcare reform.


I think the caption in that second shot needs to be changed

to "Insurance Company Decides What's Best for Shareholders"

I've given up on Hagan. She's so far gone in the "sold out" department that she doesn't even recognize there's another possibility. Knowing she's basking in the warm embrace of a pharmaceutical trade group doesn't surprise me one bit.

Well, she may as well be in the company of Kerry & Kennedy...

who are 'serving' the pharma industry very well. There's really not many members in the Senate on the side of 'the people'. This is a real power and money issue.

I'm confused

Maybe I'm missing something, but Hagan supports a public option. How is that selling out?

Adam + Adam

The two Adams over at NC Justice have been tracking this. Adam Searing wrote last week:

Big Pharma, Senator Hagan, and the Public Option Health Plan

Since Pharma has been utterly opposed to a public option - they are worried what it might do to profits - and, as Adam Linker details below, has hired dream teams of lobbyists to defeat any such proposals, you have to wonder what is going on here. My guess is that the Pharma ads supporting Hagan are meant to curry favor. Hagan sits on one of the two powerful Senate committees dealing with health reform. The proposal the Committee issued last week is only a starting point - over the next few weeks, the other Senate proposals and proposals from the House will have to be combined and compromises will have to be made. Senator Hagan’s voice will be crucial in this debate.

Adam Linker had written:

What we’re up against

The Center for Responsive Politics has sifted through the lobbying disclosure forms this year and discovered that the drug trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, has spent more than $66.5 million in the first three months of 2009 on pushing its health reform goals. That means Big Pharma is shelling out more than $1.2 million per day to influence your legislator.

Cash for astroturf, but don't despair.

Who has more disposable cash assets at any given time than the insurance industry and allies? No one, unless it's the oil industry and its allies.

More than direct contributions, at this stage of the debate they're seeking to use saturation bombing advertising to generate calls to Senators' offices.

The convenient thing is that most Senators are not stupid enough to believe that such calls represent a genuine grassroots feeling about health care as such. They represent the vested interests' ability to use massive direct advertising to frighten voters into expressing their prerecorded message.

IF--and this is a huge IF--proponents of genuine reform can continue to generate waves of calls in support of the public plan option, then the competing efforts should wash out in the political equation.

There are two equally powerful and offsetting pre-sets among the general public mindset on this issue at this time:
--One, they're afraid of losing their own insurance coverage, mostly through private providers, so they're reachable by the insurance companies' fearmongering.
--Two, they're afraid of losing their own insurance coverage EVEN IF NOTHING IS DONE BY CONGRESS, because they've seen it happen to friends, family, and former co-workers, so they're ready to hear the message from our side that the status quo is simply intolerable.

So stop despairing, and help keep up the pressure. Unless you're a total purist who believes that anything less than immediate total victory on all points is a sellout, then the quality of outcome is still in play.

Dan Besse

Thank you Dan

Well written and on point. As one of the millions without insurance this is an important issue to me. However, there is so much at stake with this issue that it needs to be looked at from all sides and all points of view.

Can we afford NOT to improve the current system? No, it must be fixed. However, it has to be done in a way that won't bankrupt the country in the long run.

There will be one shot to get this right. Let us hope that the congress will do so.

As for Sen.Kay Hagan, I will be happy to take my chances with her over Liddy Dole. A "purest" as Dan termed it, is a fool in politics, as their position is so intractable they can get nothing done. Politics is the art of using what is possible to do the impossible.

Kay is a realist, and I have the faith in her that she will do what is possible to get the best bill that this country can afford on health care.

Whatever happened

to politics being the art of what's possible?

Settling for a half-assed public plan out of the blocks is stupid, because we all know it will become more compromised as things unfold. The only conceivable antidote to that inevitable devolution is extremism on the left.

Mark my words. The plan emerging from the Senate will be flawed beyond belief. It will lead to a public plan, all right ... a public plan that would be analogous to public housing in the real estate marketplace. The very least we can do, if that.

We have the chance to create a world-class health system that rewards responsible choices while covering everyone, shifting the focus toward care instead of profits, and confronting the real issues behind our health care crisis.

But instead, we're having a bullshit conversation about a second-rate plan that will have almost no meaningful impact on our health as a nation.

The elephants in the room go unnoticed. Our obsession with longevity. Our obesity. A culture that gives us cancer at epidemic levels.

Kay Hagan could be leading on this, one of the most critical issues of our time. Instead she's worrying about insurance company profits.

That's bullshit.

I think this is unfair

I am not a Hagan-maniac. I supported Neal in the primary and have been irritated with her occasional drifts to the Evan Bayh wing of the party. However, on healthcare, she has (to my knowledge) done nothing to deserve this hostility. From the beginning of the healthcare negotiations this year, single payer advocates have been locked out of the debate by people like Max Baucus, not by relatively powerless first term senators like Hagan. Baucus and his allies marginalized single payer and ensured that it would not be seriously considered. Now, Hagan can advocate for things all she wants, but realistically, single payer was doomed (for at least this year) from the beginning. I argue that cultivating alliances with more powerful senators and pushing for the next best thing (the public option, which may yet bring about single payer anyway) is the most good she could do, and considering the opposition put up by insurance companies and pharma, was laudable.

We don't know what the senate plan will look like. But if it has a public option, I (an unemployed college grad soon to lack health insurance) will have the choice of getting affordable care that I know won't stab me in the back. That's worth something, and I'm glad Hagan is fighting for it. I wish the committee chairs hadn't poisoned a better system by locking out single payer advocates, but I'm glad that at least one of my senators is trying to make the best of it.

I'm calling Hagan tomorrow to urge her to stand firm on the public option and resist these (frankly, weird) moves from PhARMA. And I'll probably call Burr and give him a tongue-lashing while I'm at it.


Are you serious?

You're right about the lock-out of single payer advocates, but that doesn't mean we should all jump on the compromise bandwagon. In comparison to a single payer solution, making the best of the current plan is like cutting off your legs instead of getting knee surgery.

It's way too early to settle ... and every pat on the back Hagan gets tells her it's A-OK with everyone to sell out for next to nothing.

PhRMA Targets Flynn?

On a day when PhRMA runs yet another full page "biopharm" healthcare reform ad in the News&Observer, with NC Biotech as a listed sponsor, this arrives in my mailbox:

PhRMA Press Office (PhRMApress) is now following your updates on Twitter

Now we have their attention. What do you want to say?

Tell them James said ...

that he doesn't appreciate the profits from money he spends on drugs being used to subvert the common good.

Or you could just tell them to drop dead. Either way would be fine with me.