The group spent as much as $560 per congressional aide for transportation, food, and lodging.
[Editor’s Note: Now keep in mind, these congressional staffers — and the reps they work for — all get excellent taxpayer-paid health care for their families paid for by citizens who too often don’t have health care or many with horrible policies. Why, we must ask these congressional freeloaders, are their children more precious than ours? The thought of people like this being involved in health care policy is revolting. Time to revolt. — Mark L. Taylor]
By Lee Fang
The Intercept (5/10/19)
AT A LUXURY RESORT just outside of the nation’s capital last month, around four dozen senior congressional staffers decamped for a weekend of relaxation and discussion at Salamander Resort & Spa. It was an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to come together and listen to live music from the Trailer Grass Orchestra, sip surprisingly impressive glasses of Virginia wine — and hear from health care lobbyists focused on defeating Medicare for All.
The event was hosted by a group called Center Forward and featured a lecture from industry lobbyists leading the charge on undermining progressive health care proposals. Center Forward was originally known as the Blue Dog Research Forum, a think tank affiliated with the conservative Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats; the coalition has pressed the caucus to oppose social welfare spending, taxes on the wealthy, and regulations on business.
“A congressional staffer serious about finding solutions wouldn’t touch that retreat with a 10-foot pole.” — Insurance industry whistle blower Wendell Potter
The organization’s website is filled with bromides about giving “centrist allies the information they need to craft common sense solutions” that paper over an agenda designed to enrich powerful corporations.
Center Forward’s big idea on Medicare Part D, for instance, is to maintain lobbyist-authored provisions of the law that bar the government from bargaining for lower prices for medicine. Such restrictions cost taxpayers and patients as much as $73 billion a year while boosting the profits of drugmakers. Center Forward endorses the idea with a testimonial from Mary Grealy, a lobbyist for a trade group that represents pharmaceutical companies.
The retreat, held the weekend of April 5-7 in Middleburg, Virginia, continued Center Forward’s approach.
Railing against health care for all
The schedule shows that the health care discussion was led by Center Forward board member Liz Greer, a lobbyist at Forbes Tate; the firm manages the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future coalition designed to undermine Medicare-for-All. Paul Kidwell, a lobbyist from the Federation of American Hospitals, and Larry Levitt, from the Kaiser Family Foundation, also spoke. No proponents of Medicare-for-All were included. Kidwell’s trade association is part of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future group opposing single payer. …
(Commoner Call art by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
Lawsuit By 44 States Accuses Pharma Giants Of ‘Multi-Year Conspiracy’ To Hike Drug Prices By Over 1,000%
“We have hard evidence that shows the generic drug industry perpetrated a multi-billion dollar fraud on the American people.”
By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams (5/10/19)
A far-reaching lawsuit filed Friday by the attorneys general of more than 40 states accused some of the nation’s largest generic drug manufacturers of conspiring to inflate prices, in some cases by over 1,000 percent.
“We have hard evidence that shows the generic drug industry perpetrated a multi-billion dollar fraud on the American people,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, whose state led the probe into the companies’ practices, said in a statement.
We have emails, text messages, telephone records, and former company insiders that we believe will prove a multi-year conspiracy to fix prices and divide market share for huge numbers of generic drugs,” said Tong.
The suit names 20 major drug manufacturers—including Pfizer, Teva, Novartis, and Mylan—as well as more than a dozen senior executives, who the complaint accuses of deleting evidence after the states began their investigation in 2014.
“The industrywide scheme affected the prices of more than 100 generic drugs,” the New York Times reported Saturday, “including lamivudine-zidovudine, which treats H.I.V.; budesonide, an asthma medication; fenofibrate, which treats high cholesterol; amphetamine-dextroamphetamine for ADHD.; oral antibiotics; blood thinners; cancer drugs; contraceptives; and antidepressants.”
Americans pay far more for prescription drugs than the people of any other industrialized nation. Alluding to this fact, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser—who joined the multi-state lawsuit—tweeted on Saturday: “If you are angry about rising drug prices, you should be. Particularly because a major cause of price increases is illegal collusion by generic drug companies.”
As the Washington Post reported, the 465-page lawsuit accuses drug company executives of “coordinating consistently to obstruct” government investigations into drug prices, including after Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) launched a probe into generic drug pricing in 2014.
“Apparently unsatisfied with the status quo of ‘fair share’ and the mere avoidance of price erosion, Teva and its co-conspirators embarked on one of the most egregious and damaging price-fixing conspiracies in the history of the United States,” states the complaint.
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