HealthCommentary

Exploring Human Potential

Partnership to Sustain America’s Health Care Past

Posted on | March 4, 2019 | No Comments

The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future – not.

Mike Magee

On the surface, there appears to be a fair amount of finger-pointing going on among and between members of the Medical Industrial Complex these days. But this circular firing squad has no bullets. Behind the scenes the founding MIC members are busy colluding,  sharing profits and defending the status quo.

Case in point: The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future. It is a faux-partnership whose real purpose is to preserve the past rather then chart a progressive future. 

The party line, voiced by the CEO of the for-profit hospital association (a member), is “We have a structure that frankly works for most Americans. Let’s make it work for all Americans. We reject the notion that we need to turn the whole apple cart over and start all over again.”

It’s a slippery coalition, but it’s main members pack a wallop. When you go to the website, its 27 members are represented by logos with no active links. It’s one of those lobbying efforts that’s intentionally on the “down-low”; a quasi-organization whose name may soon appear as a tag line on a third generation of  “Harry and Louise” ads.

In the interest of transparency, here’s a list of the 27, segregated into Leaders, Followers, and Facilitators.

Leaders:

1. American Medical Association (AMA) – the doctors

2. American Hospital Association (AHA) – the non-profit hospitals

3. Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) – the for-profit hospitals

3. America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) – the major insurers

4. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing Association (PhRMA) – the drug makers

5. Biotechnology Innovation Organization (Bio) – the biotechnology companies

6. Association for Accessible Medicines (aam) – the generic drug producers

7. Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (The Council) – the health insurance brokers

8. Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) – the coalition of MIC CEO’s

9. National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisers (NAIFA) -The financial/insurance industry 

10. National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU)

Followers:

1. Blue Cross/Blue Shield

2. Hospital Corporation of America (HCA)

3. Ascension Health (largest Catholic HC System)

4. Ardent Health Services

5. Community Health Systems (CHS)

6. Life Point Health (Holding Company for 70 health care institutions)

7. Tenet Health

8. UHS (Universal Health Services) – manages 350 hospitals

9. Texas Health Resources (faith based 29 hospital system)

10. Premier Inc. (Health Data mining company)

11. Life Point Health (Holding Company for 70 health care institutions)

12. BC/BS of North Dakota

13. North Dakota Medical Association (NDMA)

14. American College of Radiology

Facilitators:

1. National Osteoporosis Association

2. Retire Safe

3. healthy women

The Facilitators are only three in number now, but are certain to grow. They have in common a heavy financial dependency (either as grantees or clients)  on and history with the Leaders. For example, the National Osteoporosis Foundation has been in the middle of the “Vitamin D for all” research controversy. Retire Safe is an industry dependent alternative to the AARP. And then there’s “healthy women” marketed as “the nation’s leading independent, nonprofit health information source for women.”

When you look under the hood of MIC facilitator organizations, you will find extensive lists of professional and corporate “advisers”. This helps reveal the association’s funding, and often the quid pro quo behind their financial survival. But for a look at daily operations and priorities, examine the affiliations of Board members.

For example, here are the Board members for healthy women: 

Violet Aldaia (Vice Chair), SVP Omnicom, former Viagra marketer for Pfizer

Julia M. Amadio, Chief Product Officer at TherapeuticsMD

Kristin Cahill, President GCI Health, North America

Nancy Glick, SVP MS&L

Amy Landucci, CIO of GSKs Consumer Health

Wes Metheny, former PhRMA SVP of Advocacy

Brian O’Connor, VP of Alliance Development for AdvaMed

Oxana K. Pickeral, Ph.D., MBA (Immediate Past Chair), President BioVenture LLC, former Booz Allen Life Sciences practice

Elisabeth Ritz, former Eli Lilly Global Communications, former consultant to Edelman, Hill&Knowlton and Ogilvy.

Kristina K. Saunders, CFP, CIMA, SVP Farr, Miller & Washington

Lynn A. Taylor, SVP Government Relations Merck KGaA, Germany

Tomeka Thomas, Director at Cigna/Bravo Health Springs, former UHC Evercare

Tamar R. Thompson (Chair), Exec. Dir. State Government Relations, Bristol Myers Squibb

Christine Verini (Treasurer), VP Corporate Communications and Advocacy Eisai Inc

They share in common health industry backgrounds, either as employees or clients, with a heavy emphasis on government relations and advocacy, PR communications and marketing. They are likely deeply involved in charting the communications and advocacy strategy for The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future.

Some of these vibrant and conflicted service organizations do great good. They are part of America’s “thousand points of light” – our nation’s answer to the lack of funding and support for national health planning, prevention, and social service integration seen in all other developed nations. This disintegrated health services network survives on the crumbs of a federally underwritten, profit seeking MIC.

Our facilitating “patient service” organizations like healthy women are charitably funded by MIC members, and in return are expected to defend their flanks against progressive reforms and appropriate checks and balances. 

Camouflaged as a “partnership for America’s health care future”, what this is in reality is a partnership to sustain America’s health care past.

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