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All health care groups are not created equal

As everyone has noticed by now there is a new health care advocacy group popping up in North Carolina every week — Americans for Prosperity, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, Healthcare Leadership Council, Health Care for America Now!.

News organizations sometimes identify these new groups as “liberal” or “conservative.” Instead, reporters should ask who is paying the bills.

A recent lengthy article about a health care rally hosted by Americans for Prosperity never mentions that the organization is industry funded. The reporter never pushes the group on whether or not it gets insurance or drug industry money. That’s a pretty important detail for readers when they are trying to sort out bias.

And on a recent WRAL show about President Obama’s health care plan the only two guests were introduced as representing the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and the Healthcare Leadership Council. At no time did the reporters describe those groups. The Partnership is partially funded by drug and insurance companies. And the Healthcare Leadership Council consists of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

I don’t think the press should ignore these groups that have a legitimate stake in the health care debate. But reporters should ask tougher questions — readers have a right to know.

8 Comments

  1. IBXer

    July 28, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    So you’re admiting that you can no longer win the argument so ad hominem attacks are all you have left?

  2. Lou Meyers

    July 28, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    If reporters ask tougher questions, they’ll get fired!

    The illusion of a free press is more destructive to society than an obvious unfree press. Yes, so far, it’s prevented an open and honest discussion on healthcare reform, but we’ll overcome that in short order!

  3. Kimberly

    July 29, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Those who are against Health Care Reform are desperately trying to derail it by using fake web sites, lying, and creating entities that want nothing more than to maintain the status quo. They are terrified that they will lose their pay-offs and investments and couldn’t care less about anyone else.

  4. Michael Freeman

    July 29, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Before criticizing reporters for not seeking out accurate information, perhaps you should check your own.

    To state that the Healthcare Leadership Council “consists” of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical and insurance companies is, at best, incomplete and, at worst, intellectually dishonest. Our membership does include pharmaceutical companies and insurers, but those sectors do not make up even 50% of our membership. Our members also include non-profit health providers such as the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Ascension Health, Marshfield Clinic and Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, as well as companies and organizations from other health sectors.

    You could have learned this with a check of our website or one simple phone call.

    We also haven’t just “popped up” in North Carolina. Our organization was founded in 1988 and, in recent years, we’ve been involved in North Carolina helping seniors understand how to enroll for Medicare prescription drug benefits and, more recently, linking uninsured North Carolinians with public and private health coverage options.

    Feel free to contact us anytime and we’ll be more than happy to help any references you make to the Healthcare Leadership Council are accurate ones.

    Michael Freeman
    Executive Vice President
    Healthcare Leadership Council

  5. AdamL

    July 29, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Thanks for the note Mr. Freeman. Sorry I left out hospitals — that’s another important player to mention when quoting your organization.

    Perhaps I shouldn’t have said “popped up.” A better description would be “newly visible.” I’ve never heard of the Healthcare Leadership Council getting involved in local debates here until you hired political consultant Brad Crone to promote “free market solutions” to the health care crisis.

  6. Adam Searing

    July 30, 2009 at 11:14 am

    I’d be interested to know what percentage of the HLC’s budget is funded by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries and how much the HLC has spent on political consultants in North Carolina so far this year.

  7. Michael Freeman

    July 31, 2009 at 11:53 am

    For the record, the Healthcare Leadership Council has worked with Brad Crone for 16 years, since February of 1993. The amount that the Healthcare Leadership Council has paid Mr. Crone is filed with Congress as part of our lobbying expenditures and is a matter of public record.

    Michael Freeman

  8. Adam Linker

    July 31, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Yes, I just heard Brad say that in a speech. I didn’t realize that he’s worked for you so long. He certainly wasn’t as public about it.

    And, just for the record, he describes your organization as consisting of pharma, insurers, hospitals, and medical device makers.

    Again, if reporters are quoting your organization they should note that you are an industry group.