Obama, Baucus Aides Helped Craft Industry’s Push for Health Reform
Aides to President Obama and Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) met with key health care industry players at an April meeting to develop plans for a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign designed to bolster public support for health reform, Politico reports.
The aides insist there was no quid pro quo involved, as do the lobbyists for the industry groups. But critics say the meeting raises serious questions, and at least one anonymous participant said the groups felt pressured to join.
The April 15 meeting led to the creation of Americans for Stable Quality Care and the now-defunct Healthy Economy Now, which have spent millions on television advertising in support for health reform.
Spokespeople for Baucus and the White House say they did not pressure industry representatives to join the reform efforts.
Ken Johnson, a senior vice president at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the group "could have walked away at any time." PhRMA provided most of the $24 million the two groups received from the industry.
The coalition also included the American Medical Association; AARP; the American Cancer Society; the Business Roundtable; Families USA; the Service Employees International Union, which has since left; and biotechnology and medical device trade groups.
AHIP and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce refused to participate (Smith/Vogel, Politico, 10/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.