Who's Who In The Health Care Debate

June 10, 2009 4:57 pm ET — Melinda Warner

As the fight over health care reform heats up, the same talking heads will be out promoting the same set of Republican talking points.  Here you will find a brief introduction to a few of these personalities along with useful links to assist in your future endeavors.

Rick Scott, Conservatives for Patients Rights (CPR)

Columbia/HCA, Inc.

In Ten Years, Scott Turned Two Hospitals Into A $20 Billion National Corporation.  Richard L. Scott founded the Columbia/HCA hospital system and turned it into a $20 billion international corporation within ten years. [RLSI.net, accessed 2/26/09; New York Times, 7/26/97]

Federal Investigation Of Columbia/HCA Revealed Medicare Fraud And Documents "Stamped With Warnings That They Should Not Be Disclosed To Medicare Auditors." Federal investigations into Columbia/HCA Medicare filings uncovered evidence that the company kept "second sets of cost reports and worksheets maintained at HCA hospitals that contained significantly lower expenses than in reports submitted to the government. Some of those documents were stamped with warnings that they should not be disclosed to Medicare auditors." Additionally, "expenses for employee picnics, Christmas gifts and food for nonemployees at social functions" were coded as patient care so as to receive a larger Medicare reimbursement. [New York Times, 7/17/97; New York Times, 7/26/97; New York Times, 12/18/02]

Columbia/HCA Admitted To Several Serious Fraudulent Activities.  Columbia/HCA admitted to: "systematically overcharging the government by claiming marketing costs as reimbursable;" increasing "Medicare billings by exaggerating the seriousness of the illnesses they were treating;" and giving "doctors 'loans' that were never expected to be paid back, free rent, free office furniture, and free drugs from hospital pharmacies." [Forbes.com, 12/15/00, emphasis added]

Columbia/HCA Paid "More Than $1.7 Billion In Civil And Criminal Penalties."  The New York Times reported that a settlement was reached in the HCA fraud investigation.  "Combined with previous settlements HCA has negotiated with the government involving fraud accusations -- including its agreement in 2000 to plead guilty to 14 felonies -- the company will be paying a total of more than $1.7 billion in civil and criminal penalties, by far the largest amount ever secured by federal prosecutors in a health care fraud case." [New York Times, 12/18/02, emphasis added]

After His Removal From Columbia/HCA, Scott's Severance Package Included Nearly $10 Million And $300 Million In Stocks.  When Richard L. Scott was forced out of Columbia/HCA during the fraud investigation, the company agreed to give him a severance package that included: "a one-time payment of $5.13 million," "a five-year annual consulting fee of $950,000, for a total of $9.88 million," and "10 million shares of stock valued at more than $300 million." [New York Times, 11/14/97; Florida Times-Union, 6/21/06]

Secure Computing

Scott Company Sold Software That Contributed To The Oppression Of Iranian And Saudi Arabian People. During his time on the Board of Directors for Secure Computing, the company sold firewall software to Saudi Arabia at a discount to be used to further censorship that is "censorship is considered among the most restrictive in the world."  The software - SmartFilter - is also used extensively by Iran, although it is illegal for American businesses to sell technology in Iran.  [BusinessWeek, 11/13/08; New York Times, 11/19/01; OpenNet.net, "Internet Filtering in Iran in 2004-2005: A Country Study," accessed 4/14/09; Information Week, 10/14/05; BBC.co.uk, 6/24/05]

Solantic

Solantic Was Founded In 2001 With A Business Model Based Upon Home Depot, McDonald's, And Wal-Mart.  The Solantic clinic system was founded in 2001 by Richard L. Scott with the goal of offering "convenient walk-in urgent health care." Scott and co-founder Karen Bowling (a Columbia/HCA alum) "pored over books about successful companies such as Home Depot, McDonald's and Wal-Mart" to create the business model for their walk-in clinic business. [Business Wire, 7/30/07; Florida Times-Union, 6/21/06]

Sally Pipes, Pacific Research Institute

Sally Pipes Is The President And CEO Of Pacific Research Institute.  Since 2001, "Sally C. Pipes [has been] president and chief executive officer of the Pacific Research Institute, a San Francisco-based think tank founded in 1979."  In her position as head of PRI, Pipes has been paid between $350,000 and $375,000 annually.  [PacificResearch.org, accessed 6/9/09; Guidestar.org, accessed 3/13/09]

  • PRI Is Funded Almost Exclusively By Right-Wing Organizations. According to Media Transparency, Pacific Research Institute is funded almost exclusively by right-wing groups, including the Coors family's Castle Rock Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, described as "the country's largest and most influential right-wing foundation." [Mediatransparency.org, accessed 4/20/09]
  • The Koch Family Foundations Have Given PRI More Than $1 Million. The various Koch family foundations - the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation - have granted Pacific Research Institute at least $1,600,800 since 1986. [MediaTransparency.org, accessed 3/12/09]

Pipes Served On Genworth Insurance Board. According to her biography on the website of Pacific Research Institute, "Ms. Pipes served on the Medical Advisory Council of Genworth Financial's Long-Term Care Insurance Division in 2006..." Genworth Financial is a "long-term care insurance specialist." [PacificResearch.org, accessed 4/20/09; Wall Street Journal, 11/12/08]

Pipes Has A History Of Publicly Defending The Companies That Donate To PRI.  According to the New York Times, the Walton family (of Wal-Mart) donated $175,000 over five years to PRI.  Additionally, the Times reported: "A month after a federal judge in California certified a sex discrimination lawsuit against [Wal-Mart] as a class action in 2004, Ms. Pipes wrote an article in The Examiner criticizing the lawyers and the women behind the suit. 'The case against Wal-Mart,' she wrote, 'follows the standard feminist stereotype of women as victims, men as villains and large corporations as inherently evil.'" [New York Times, 9/8/06]

Pipes Failed To Disclose $175,000 In Donations From Wal-Mart Foundation. The article Pipes penned in defense of Wal-Mart "did not disclose that the Walton Family Foundation gave Pacific Research $175,000 from 1999 to 2004." The Foundation "is run by the Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton's three children, who have a controlling stake in the company." [New York Times, 9/8/06]

Pipes Made The False Claim That Health Care Costs Doesn't Hurt U.S. Competitiveness: In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, Pipes wrote: "But the assertion that the costs of providing health insurance cripples American corporations in the global economy is simply wrong. [Wall Street Journal, 3/9/09]

Pipes Falsely Claimed Uninsured Don't Drive Up the Cost of Health Care. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Sally Pipes argued, "Another common argument for more government insurance is that the uninsured shift costs to private payers when they avail themselves of the health-care safety net -- thus jacking up health-care premiums in the private sector. Many reform advocates make this claim..." [Wall Street Journal, 3/9/09]

Betsy McCaughey

McCaughey Has Experience Working At Conservative Think Tanks.  McCaughey has held positions at both the Manhattan Institute and the Hudson Institute.  [HospitalInfection.org, accessed 6/10/09]

FactCheck.org Countered McCaughey's Health Care Assertions.  According to FactCheck.org: "Betsy McCaughey, a Republican former lieutenant governor of New York, claims that the bill creates a 'new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology.' Not true. The office was created in 2004 by President Bush. McCaughey, an adjunct fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute, also says the office 'will monitor treatments' and ''guide' your doctor's decisions.' But that's nothing new. Bush's initiative called for creating a health IT system to transmit information to 'guide medical decisions.'" [FactCheck.org, 2/27/09]

McCaughey Has A History Of Promoting False Health Care Claims.  According to Media Matters for America, McCaughey has repeated "the false claim that provisions in the economic recovery act would permit the government to control health care. In fact, the provisions she cited address establishing an electronic records system in part for the purpose of 'reduc[ing] health care costs resulting from inefficiency, medical errors, inappropriate care, duplicative care, and incomplete information.' It does not say that the federal government will determine what constitutes 'unnecessary care.'" [MediaMatters.org, 2/11/09]

Manhattan Institute

MI Fellow Authored Book Arguing That "Black People Are Genetically And Intellectually Inferior To White People."  According to SourceWatch: "Charles Murray was one author who was based at the Manhattan Institute while writing the book Losing Ground. Murray is 'a far right ideologue who wrote The Bell Curve in 1984, a book that essentially argues black people are genetically and intellectually inferior to white people.'" [SourceWatch.org, accessed 6/10/09]

MI Has Received Funding From Multiple Right-Wing Organizations.  From SourceWatch: "Between 1985 and 2005, the Institute received $20,629,883...from only nine foundations."  Those foundations include: Castle Rock Foundation, Koch Family Foundations, Scaife Foundations, and the Walton Family Foundation. [SourceWatch.org, accessed 6/10/09; MediaTransparency.org, accessed 6/10/09]

Hudson Institute

Hudson Receives Funding From The Conservative Movement.  According to SourceWatch: "While describing itself as 'non-partisan' and preferring to portray itself as independently 'contrarian' rather than as a conservative think tank, the Hudson Institute gains financial support from many of the foundations and corporations that have bankrolled the conservative movement. The Capital Research Center, a conservative group that seeks to rank non-profits and documents their funding, allocates Hudson as a 7 on its ideological spectrum with 8 being 'Free Market Right' and 1 'Radical Left.'" [SourceWatch.org, accessed 6/10/09]

Multiple Far Right Organizations Have Donated To Hudson.  According to MediaTransparency.org, the Hudson Institute received $17,722, 643 from 1987 through 2006 from organizations including: the Castle Rock Foundation, Sarah Scaife Foundation, The Carthage Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation.  [MediaTransparency.org, accessed 6/10/09]

Stephen Moore, Club for Growth

Moore Currently Works As An Editorial Writer For The Wall Street Journal. A recent article in the National Review Online described Moore as "a senior economics writer for the Wall Street Journal editorial page." [National Review Online, 4/3/09]

  • 2000: Moore Argued That Health Care In America "Is Better Than Ever." In an appearance on NPR, Moore said: "I make the case that our health care is better than ever, for the vast majority of people. I mean, I don't think there's any question about it. If you have a cancer today, your chances of surviving from cancer today is twice as high as it was as, say, 40 years ago. Forty years ago, if you got cancer, it was a death certificate. Today, a lot of people survive. Now it is true that there are more people who are uninsured, but I think the quality of the health care, generally, is better." [NPR, 6/5/00]

Moore Testified Before Congress That The Pharmaceutical Industry Was Forced To Spend $150 Million Each Year On Lobbying Because It Is "Almost Under Daily Assault From Congress Trying To Deplete Its Profits." In 2003 testimony before the House Government Reform Committee, Moore said: "So again, it's sort of this outside-down thinking that somehow because the drug industry is making a lot of money that's a bad thing. It's a very good thing. And in fact, one of the reasons, unfortunately, that this industry has to spend $150 million lobbying every year, unfortunately, is because this industry is almost under daily assault from Congress trying to deplete its profits, I think, very unfairly." [House Government Reform Committee, 6/25/03]

Moore Has Worked For A Number Of Major Right-Wing Organizations, As Well As For Former Congressman Dick Armey. According to the New York Sun, "Mr. Moore worked as director of fiscal policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute and as a budget analyst for the Heritage Foundation. He also served as an economist on Capitol Hill for a former Texas congressman, Rep. Dick Armey." [New York Sun, 2/2/05]

Moore Wrote An Article Titled "What's Wrong With Insider Trading?" In an article in National Review about the Martha Stewart case, Moore wrote: "Libertarians have long argued that insider trading should not be a crime, because 1) there is no victim, and 2) because everyone who makes money in the financial markets is engaging in some degree of insider trading--some just have better information than others. Being a good stock picker involves having more information, and knowing how to get it, faster than other traders. What is the difference, really, between a hot stock tip, and insider trading? The line is so murky that it makes the enforcement of insider-trading laws inconsistent and capricious." [National Review, 3/9/04]

Club For Growth

Moore Was Founder Of The Club For Growth, A Group Dedicated To Enforcing Conservative Orthodoxy Among Party Members And Targeting Republicans In Name Only (RINOs). According to the American Spectator: "One of the leading proponents of Reaganomics these days is an outfit calling itself The Club for Growth.' Founded by supporters of Reagan's supply-side economics, Reaganites one and all ... The Club is famous for delving into the records of GOP candidates for not just the presidency but other offices as well, carefully combing the fine print of their speeches, programs and votes as office-holder or candidate and matching them to the Reagan ideal." [American Spectator, 12/28/07]

Moore's Club For Growth Supported Social Security Privatization. According to the National Journal, "several anti-tax groups, including the Club for Growth and Jack Kemp's Empower America, have begun rallying around an even more ambitious proposal, drafted by consultant Peter Ferrara, to let individuals divert an average of 6.4 percentage points of their 12.4 percent payroll tax -- more than half -- into private accounts... Bigger accounts, supply-siders argue, mean more public support. 'The way to get people excited is to have [the accounts] be financially consequential,' said Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth, for which Ferrara is a consultant." [National Journal, 12/13/03]

Club For Growth Charged With Contributing Political Funds Without Proper FEC Compliance.  According to the Associated Press: "The Federal Election Commission filed a lawsuit Monday [September 20, 2005,] in U.S. District Court in Washington against the Club for Growth, the first case of its kind to arise from high-dollar fundraising during the 2004 elections. The pro-Republican group spent at least $21 million in the 2003-2004 election cycle. ... The FEC contends the club spent enough in federal races to require it to file with the commission as a political committee and to follow contribution and spending limits. It wants the court to fine the group and order it to comply with campaign finance rules." [Associated Press, 9/19/05, via SourceWatch, accessed 6/10/09]

Lawrence Hunter, Institute For Policy Innovation

Lawrence A. Hunter Is Senior Fellow At The Institute For Policy Innovation (IPI). According to the IPI website, the organization was "founded in 1987 by Congressman Dick Armey to research, develop and promote innovative and nonpartisan solutions to public policy problems." The same website describes Hunter as "Senior Research Fellow." [IPI.org, accessed 6/1/09]

"Lawrence A. Hunter Is Chief Economist At Empower America." According to IPI.org: "Dr. Lawrence A. Hunter is Chief Economist at Empower America". [IPI.org, accessed 6/10/09]

Hunter Has Worked For The  Pharmaceutical Research And Manufacturers Of America And The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce. [Washington Post, 8/12/06; National Journal, 4/3/93]

Hunter Believes The Current Healthcare System Is Not Sufficiently Oriented To The Free Market. In an article in the American Spectator Online, Hunter wrote: "When Republicans controlled both Congress and the White House, they did nothing to change the anti-market regulations that hobble the health-care industry. Nor did they get rid of the ill-conceived tax laws that subsidize employer-provided health insurance. The result is a system that hides costs from consumers and disrupts the natural laws of supply and demand." [American Spectator Online, 12/7/07]

Hunter Has Pushed The Anti-Reform "Comparative Effectiveness Research" Meme.  In an article for the American Spectator, Hunter wrote: "Much of the criticism of the $787 billion stimulus bill is focused on its cost. But what's really at issue is a matter of life and death. Buried deep in the package, there is an expensive new healthcare program that could jeopardize the health, even the lives, of millions of patients. The bill funnels about $1 billion into government-run 'comparative effectiveness research' (CER) ... Stripped of bureaucratic jargon, it is the precursor for a national healthcare rationing board." [American Spectator, 2/18/09]

Institute For Policy Innovation

The IPI Does Not Believe That Health Care Is "A Right." According to the IPI website: "Describing health care as a 'right' clouds and confuses the issue, as 'quality health care is a relative concept, just as is 'quality education.' The concept of health care as a 'right' guaranteed by government has led to government as payer in most nations, government as single-payer in many nations, and government as provider in some nations. [ipi.org, accessed 6/1/09]

IPI Emphasizes Pharmaceutical Innovation As "A Key" To Solving The Health Care Crisis. According to the IPI website: "A key to improving health care around the world is pharmaceutical innovation, and the efficient distribution of innovative pharmaceuticals around the world. Today innovative pharmaceuticals are substitutes for most costly and more risky surgery. Pharmaceuticals also treat and cure many diseases and conditions, and mitigate pain as never before." [ipi.org, accessed 6/1/09]

Empower America

Empower America Became FreedomWorks.  According to SourceWatch, "Empower America was 'devoted to ensuring that government actions foster growth, economic well-being, freedom and individual responsibility.'" Empower America merged with Citizens for a Sound Economy in 2004 to form FreedomWorks.  [SourceWatch.org, accessed 6/10/09]

Hunter Was Chief Economist With Empower America, An Organization Founded By Jack Kemp. In an article in the New York Times, Hunter was described as "the chief economist at Empower America, a group here run by Mr. Kemp, the former representative who was a driving force behind the last large tax cut, the one in 1981." [New York Times, 4/10/01]

 

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