If John Shadegg Wants People to Take Him Seriously, He Should Give Drug Companies Their Money Back

BULL CONGRESSMAN

Next time Congressman John Shadegg holds a town hall meeting, remind me to clothespin my nose.

What's wafting from the Republican pol is the stench of hypocrisy.

True to what you've been seeing nonstop on the TV news lately, his August 8 town hall on healthcare was full to burstin' with alter kockers mad as hell that Barack Obama's about to shove communism down their gullets and make them give up the socialized medicine of Medicare and VA benefits for the socialized medicine of what they call "Obamacare."

In other words, it was a relatively friendly, conservative crowd for Shadegg. Never mind that there really is no such thing as Obama­care, yet. There is a House of Representatives bill 3200 (among several others) that — if you really bother to read it, as these crazed Republinuts say they have — is full of such frightening concepts as "prohibiting pre-existing condition exclusions," "requiring fair market practices by health insurers," and "timely payment of claims."

Oooh, scary.

Why, who needs that hooey when we can have medical costs through the roof and close to 46 million Americans uninsured? But I digress.

One woman espoused her worry over what lowbrow job-quitter Sarah Palin calls the Obama "death panels." Of course, there are no such things. The now-infamous Section 1233 of H.R. 3200 simply provides for "advance care planning consultation." That means a conversation with a physician concerning living wills, power of attorney, orders for life-sustaining treatment, and other stuff we should all generally know about.

Such consultations have been proposed in the past by Republicans like Newt Gingrich. But now the GOP sees a benefit in scaring the bejesus out of seniors, or at least in not calming their fears.

The latter is what Shadegg did when the woman asked him about what would happen to her when she was near to croakin'.

"What is going to happen to people like me, who are retired?" she wondered, adding, "We are going to be counseled on how to end our lives because the money will be taken from us."

She went on to describe how "people with disabilities, children with disabilities, their parents will be counseled on how to end their child's life."

But Shadegg didn't lay these unnecessary worries to rest, worries based on a crude misinterpretation of one bill's provision.

"I can give you no assurance that the plan you have will continue to be in effect and applied to you as it applies now, if this bill becomes law," replied Shadegg.

That, of course, didn't answer her concern. Nor did it tell her the truth, like, "Hey, lady, no one's gonna tell you to off yourself. And no one's gonna take away your health insurance."

Rather, Shadegg said the equivalent of, "Don't ask me if the sun's gonna rise tomorrow. What do I look like, a psychic?"

Shadegg basically milked the preconceived notions of the crowd. Generally, he was rewarded with applause.

Like when he went off on a report in the media that drug companies were planning to back healthcare reform in TV ads. That much is true. But Shadegg's outrage over it is more than disingenuous.

"America's pharmaceutical industry is running," Shadegg told his audience, "I believe, somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million — maybe $50 million — worth of advertisements this August promoting Obamacare. You're paying for it. I'm paying for it."

Dr. Shadegg's prescription for the problem? "Unload on the drug companies." That is, pepper drug companies and lobbying arms such as PhRMA (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) with angry e-mails and letters.

"They stand to get rich out of the government funding healthcare in America," the congressman said. "This is a conflict of interest. Those advertisements are an outrage."

Conflict of interest? How about this for a conflict of interest:

According to his filings with the Federal Election Commission, Congressman Shadegg has so far accepted about $48,500 in contributions for his 2010 re-election effort from healthcare-related PACs.

A preferred provider (PPO) PAC gave him $2,000. AFLAC slipped him $2,000. The PAC for Pfizer — one of those big drug companies that's a member of the PhRMA lobby? Shadegg scored $1,000 from it. The list goes on and on, from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons ($2,500) to a PAC for urologists ($1,000).

And the fundraising for 2010 hasn't even hit full steam. A better indicator of what Shadegg may eventually raise for 2010 are his filings for 2008, the last time he ran. The total amount given from committees related to doctors, insurance companies, and drug companies? A whopping $166,000.

Yep, in 2008, Shadegg practically took a bath in $1,000 bills from the healthcare industry. Eli Lilly, another member of PhRMA, put $1,000 in the kitty. Pfizer ponied up $4,000 in 2008. He pulled in $2,000 from CIGNA, $2,000 from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Arizona, $5,000 from Physician Hospitals of America, $5,000 from the cataract PAC (I'm guessing they're anti-cataracts). You can see the list at the FEC's Web site, just by looking at "Other Committees Contributions" for Shadegg's file.

Asked about all the loot he's pulled in from the people he's charged with regulating, or de-regulating, Shadegg spokeswoman Katie Orme replied to me via e-mail, telling me that the congressman really has been tough on the folks writing the checks.

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13 comments
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Todd
Todd

#7 said: [ The 2006 legislation which put Medicare Part D in place included a restriction prohibiting the federal government from negotiating drug prices. That's insane, since every large purchaser (e.g., Walmart) does this with suppliers, so you can bet that the pharmaceutical manufacturing lobby was instrumental in getting this restriction included. ]You are quite right. The sponsor of said legislation is now the chief lobbyist for PHARmA.

William Crum
William Crum

Sorry Tom, I believe that the GOP is so upset that our President is trying to help as many people stay;it's just a crying shame. We can so money on the warsBad) and not dime for our better health(good). You are right that not all do the research but I will leave you with this: the insurance companies are presently exemp from Sherman AntiTrust Law and maybe the first Congress should do is change that. To change should lead to a better pricing for all and maybe we will be able to afford healthcare. Tell me what you think about that. I look for solutions not warfare. Sorry.

Cyrus
Cyrus

Once again, what part of "ILLEGAL" do you not understand? When they crossed the border they broke the law and therefore they are criminals. The couple you were talking about? They have been here to 20 years and they still do not speak English? That's not assimilation and becoming part of our society. They don't want to. They barrio out the neighborhoods, use up countless city, county, state and federal resources (taypayer's money) that Americans could use right now in this economy, then they send the majority of their pay to Mexico, which only benefits Mexico's economy, not ours. There should also be a lot more of employers enforcement, as these companies are saving a lot of money by not having to pay social security, withholding, Medicare, and unemployment taxes, which creates an even bigger financial burden on our social services funding. Why should Illegals (i.e., criminals) get a "get out of jail fee card"?

Delia
Delia

Stephen---thank you for taking an interest in immigration issues and speaking about the problem with dignity and respect on behalf of immigrants. Sadly, what happened to my clients is a recurring theme in federal immigration detention. My clients are true heros for withstanding the indignity they were subjected too. Thanks again, Stephen and I look forwrd to working with you in the future.

Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

Frankly, I don't understand why anybody opposes replacing countless private health insurance companies with a single national, non-profit company. By eliminating owner profits and high executive compensation, an immediate cost savings of at least 20 percent would be seen. Additional cost savings would come from eliminating the duplicative overhead costs found among countless private companies keeping track of the same general population pool. And in the insurance game, costs from sick patients are best minimized by spreading them across as large a pool of insured individuals as possible, most of whom are relatively healthy. With a national insurance company the pool would be the entire U.S. population.

Those who want to understand how private insurance works -- why we already have rationed healthcare, why (private) bureaucrats and bean-counters already make life and death decisions about healthcare, why the doctor/patient relationship has already been undermined, and who the real clients of giant healthcare insurance corporations are (hint: it isn't you, even if you are insured through them) -- should read the following website article.

It's written by a whipsmart doctor who spent years dealing with managed private care as the intermediary between patients and insurance companies and HMOs. It's 10 pages, and the really interesting stuff doesn't even start for a few pages into it. The text design and format isn't easy to read and switches around goofily -- somebody get the doctor a webmaster -- but it's detailed, realistic, unsentimental, sizzling hot stuff. Revelatory. And non-partisan. Even if you don't agree on a solution, you need to understand the problem if you're going to make rational decisions on healthcare reform, if not now then in the future. And democracy cannot function properly without rational decisions from the electorate. Read it whether you're opposed to Obama, or for him, or just luke-warm. http://guthealthcare.com/under...

Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

See, whenever fat-cat private interests in the Establishment get cozy with supposed reformers, I get nervous. For example, giant insurance companies have their own reasons for supporting some of these proposals, including mandatory insurance. From the LA Times:

Private health insurance faces a bleak future if the proposal they champion most vigorously -- a requirement that everyone buy medical coverage -- is not adopted.

The customer base for private insurance has slipped since 2000, when soaring premiums began driving people out. The recession has accelerated the problem. But even after the economy recovers, the downward spiral is expected to continue for years as baby boomers become eligible for Medicare -- and stop buying private insurance. . . . The industry's real trouble begins in 2011, when 79 million baby boomers begin turning 65. Health insurers stand to lose a huge slice of their commercially insured enrollment (estimated at 162 million to 172 million people) over the next two decades to Medicare, the government-funded health insurance program for seniors.

"The rate of aging far and away exceeds the birth rate," said Sheryl Skolnick, a CRT Capital Group healthcare investment analyst. "That's got to be very scary. . . . This is the biggest fight for survival managed care has ever faced, at least since they went bankrupt in the late '80s."

http://www.latimes.com/feature...

More comments to come including some really useful links.

Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

The 2006 legislation which put Medicare Part D in place included a restriction prohibiting the federal government from negotiating drug prices. That's insane, since every large purchaser (e.g., Walmart) does this with suppliers, so you can bet that the pharmaceutical manufacturing lobby was instrumental in getting this restriction included. It is said that this could have cost the government roughly a trillion dollars through 2015, which, ironically, is about how much Obama and related healthcare reform proponents have estimated as the cost of their reforms.

It would be interesting to know where Shadegg stood on the drug lobby's protection clause in the 2006 legislation.

It wouldn't surprise me if the drug lobby supports current legislation with a similar quid pro quo, so in that sense Shadegg may be right. Of course, he has his own, reactionary agenda, but my personal reaction to Obama is that he has slid way too far to the right, and that many of his cabinet members and advisers are in the pockets of big banking and other fat-cat lobbies.

None of which is to say that Obama, as a Clintonite successor, isn't miles and miles better than Bush, or that his proposals and arguments are without merit. Personally though, I wonder if a half-assed approach won't do more harm than good, especially given the fact that the legislation is gigantic and apparently not actually read in totality by anyone except lobbyists and their lawyers, and possibly the congressional staff who expect to get lucrative jobs with them later on.

Supposedly we have a "free market" but cannot freely import drugs from countries like Mexico and Canada which provide equivalent generics for (in some cases) vastly lower prices. I recently spoke with someone with some serious health issues who spends about $25 a month after travelling to Mexico for drugs which in the U.S. cost about $400. He swears by them.

I may have a bit more to add (and more constructively) as a later comment. Not enough online time at the moment.

Tom
Tom

William -- I not only don't believe in the tooth fairy, I don't believe in mandating that someone else be responsible for putting money under my kid's pillow when he does loose a tooth. With regard to my previous comment -- I was just pointing out that there are two sides to every story and a reasonable person could go beyond the stated facts, do a little research, and see that the truth usually lies somewhere in between. I will leave it at that, if you want to continue to attack me personally, don't expect an answer. You won't get one.

Former Republican
Former Republican

Stephen, Great investigative work. Thanks for the public service in following the money and the hypocrisy with these self-serving Arizona congressmen. Time for change and housecleaning!

Tom
Tom

Saying that Shadegg outspent Lord by a million dollars only tells half of the story. The FEC shows that candidate expenditures by the party on behalf of Lord were one million dollars more than Shadegg and party expenditures against Shadegg were one million dollars more than against Lord. That means 1 million dollars more was spent on Lord's campaign (Remember the endless commercials!!!) than Shadegg's. http://www.fec.gov/press/press... And since the Democratic Party gets lots of money from the Healthcare Industry where do you suppose that money spent on Lord's behalf originally came from?

William Crum
William Crum

As soon as the GOP can figure out how they can really make money over these situation, will probaly be the only time that you see movement on this issue. It's all about the money.

Coz
Coz

Shedhead is like any other politician, full of bullshit and what's in it for me.

 
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