All Dems Opposing Medicare Panel Have Major Industry Ties

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A small but growing Democrats are lining up to oppose a major element of Obama’s deficit reduction plan—and all have received major campaign contributions to the health care industry. As I wrote last week, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) became the third and highest-profile House Democrat to support a GOP bill to repeal a Medicare panel with sweeping authority to make spending cuts to health-care providers and services.

The Medicare panel, known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), raised the hackles of health care industry groups that could take a hit from such cuts. Unsurprisingly, all the Democrats who want to repeal the board—including two business-friendly New Democrats and one pro-labor liberal Dem—have received major campaign contributions from the health care industry. 

Health professionals were the top industry donating to Rep. Shelly Berkeley’s campaign committee in the 2010 election cycle, and they’re the second-largest industry to donate directly to her campaign since the Nevada Democrat’s election to Congress in 2000. Similarly, as Jonathan Cohn points out, health professionals are the third-largest group to donate to Schwartz, who also receives big donations from the pharmaceutical industry. Finally, Pharma was the fifth biggest donor to Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.), a liberal Dem who received more than $100,000 in 2010 alone from the industry. 

Unlike the Republicans who oppose IPAB, these Democrats don’t cite industry concerns in explaining their support for repeal. Rather, they stress the argument that the board—made up of 15 White House-appointed, Senate-confirmed members—goes too far in bypassing Congress. But given the strong industry opposition to the board—and Obama’s recent vow to expand its authority to include Big Pharma, which isn’t under the current purview of IPAB—there’s no question health care lobbyists are making sure that sympathetic members of Congress are hearing out their concerns. 

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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