Some believe that drug industry dark money was used to kill Obamacare. Here is what we found out.
Funds campaigns against reducing Medicare drug prices
The New York Times devoted an entire page in the Sunday paper a few weeks ago to an article entitled “The Stealth Campaign to Kill Obamacare.” Here is what it said.
When Republicans launched a campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), the pharmacy industry’s top lobbying group, denied taking a stance pro or con.
However, PhRma financially supports one group in particular that is working hard to kill the ACA, the American Action Network. The Network ran an ad campaign urging voters to support the repeal – to the tune of $10 million. PhRMA donated $6.1 million to the Network the year before.
The reason no one knew about this right away? Nonprofit groups, like PhRMA, have to report their grants in their own IRS filings, so they would not become public for months.
Well-known dark-money group
The Times reports that the American Action Network has become known for using dark money – defined as difficult-to-trace funds – for ads, phone calls and other methods to influence politics and kill Obamacare. They generally don’t have to make public who their donors are.
PhRMA has denied that it backs the actions of the organizations that receive its donations. However, the amount of donations to politically active groups has been stepped up, coincidentally, with the campaign to kill the ACA. In 2015, it made about $1 million in political donations, compare with $10 million in 2016.
The article says that PhRMA’s dark-money contributions to a group associated with the conservative billionaire Koch brothers. The group, the Americans for Prosperity, has said it will be around to run attack ads against supporters of the ACA in the November election. PhRMA has donated to other conservative groups, as well.
Where Medicare comes in
How does this affect Medicare? The American Action Network – whose pockets were $14.6 million richer in 2016 – started an ad campaign against allowing the government/Medicare to reduce drug prices by direct negotiation. We know they (and others) succeeded. Read more on Drug price negotiations.
As The Times notes, the Network and the other groups that receive PhRMA money keep the lobbying group at arm’s length, avoiding any suggestion that they are representing their interests.
Dark-money groups also get funded by individual pharmacy companies, Amgen and Johnson & Johnson among them. They are not legally required to disclose these donations.
Big Pharma is doing everything it can, not only to kill the ACA, but to prevent losing any control over charging for the drugs needed by senior citizens. And it is doing it under cover. Dark money is as evil as it sounds.
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