Why Do the Same Groups Oppose Health Care and Energy Reform?

Thu, 2009-08-13 09:56Mitchell Anderson
Mitchell Anderson's picture

Why Do the Same Groups Oppose Health Care and Energy Reform?

Health care reform seems a long way from climate change but they share something very important in common: well funded interest groups that want to keep things just the way they are.

Take the Manhattan Institute. They are railing against proposed health care reform, churning out a dizzying number of reports and op-eds about why “Obama-care” is wrong for America. They also expend abundant effort slagging climate science, last year feting Danish doubter Bjorn Lomborg. The Manhattan Institute received $235,000 from ExxonMobil, as well as funding from various other conservative organizations.

Or the Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog that has received $257,500 from ExxonMobil, and regularly gripes about how biased the US media is towards the “theory” of climate change, or the need to overhaul the health care system.

Other groups working hard to derail Obama’s health care platform include the notorious Heartland Institute. Desmog Blog readers will remember their remarkably unethical efforts to associate unwitting climate researchers with their propaganda campaign against climate science.

Heartland just released a thick report objectively entitled “Obama Health Plan: Rationing, Higher Taxes, and Lower Quality Care”, authored by Peter Ferrara.

Mr. Ferrara is truly a multi-talented researcher. Not only is he apparently an expert on health care and medical policy, he has also spilled buckets of ink hectoring the scientific community for their slap dash research on climate change. 

Just this spring Ferrara was holding forth in the national press that the UN’s global warming reports involve shoddy science skewed to favor the theory of man-made global warming…despite growing evidence from first-rate, blue chip scientists who are increasingly concluding that humans have little effect on global temperatures…”

Who knew that one man could know so much? It’s amazing what they teach you in law school.

So why are the same groups that oppose reducing carbon emissions also fighting against health care reform? Perhaps the best explanation is that great unifier, money.

An interesting case study is the newly minted astroturf group Conservatives for Patients Rights - founded by Richard L. Scott, a man who has a rather vested interest in keeping US health care in private hands.

In 1988, Scott co-founded the Columbia Hospital Corporation (Columbia/HCA). He and his business partners aimed to transform US health care by “doing for hospitals …what McDonald’s has done in the food business and what WalMart has done in the retailing business.”

Scott apparently intended to own 25% of the nation’s hospitals and predicted that rash of closures might clear the field of unprofitable ““teaching hospitals and children’s hospitals” – increasing market share for Columbia/HCA.

This fixation on the profit motive was illustrated in 1995 when one quarter of Columbia’s administrators were earning bonuses equaling at least 80 percent of their salaries.

Scott apparently wondered out loud, “Do we have an obligation to provide health care for everybody? Where do we draw the line? Is any fast-food restaurant obliged to feed everyone who shows up?”

By 1997, Columbia/HCA was the largest health care provider in the world with annual revenues of $23 billion.

That July, they were also raided by the FBI in five states and later convicted of fourteen felony charges relating to Medicare fraud and doctor kickback schemes. Columbia/HCA eventually paid $1.7 billion in fines – the highest in US history at the time. Three HCA executives were indicted, and Scott was ousted as CEO by the board of directors – with a $10 million severance package and more than $300 million in stock.

Since then he formed an investment company, Richard L. Scott Investments, with a thick portfolio of private health care ventures. In 2001, Scott also co-founded Solantic, a chain of medical clinics that this year raised $40 million in private equity.

Scott has ambitious plans for Solantic to become a national brand of emergency medical clinics with 35 clinics open by the end of the year with $100 million in annual revenues, and potentially “a thousand locations”.

Fast-forward to 2009, one month after Obama was sworn in, when Scott founded Conservatives for Patients Rights with $5 million of his own money and $15 million more from undisclosed sources. According to the WSJ, this campaign is aimed to “pressure Democrats to enact health-care legislation based on free-market principles.”

So what do the voices shrilly opposing health care and energy reform have in common? Money. Both stand to lose big if Obama succeeds in enacting the agenda the American people elected him to do.

Keep that in mind the next time you see an expensive ad telling you to fear efforts to make our health care more accessible, or our energy more sustainable.

Previous Comments

because they both lead to the road to serfdom. the senate bill leaves 30 million people without coverage. the house bill leaves 18 million without. seems like there must be some other motive than giving everyone health coverage. cap and trade reduces co2 by zero (or whatever insignificant number you want to pick). why would somebody want to pass it? must be some other motive. perhaps the quick path to socialism. i hope i didn’t misspell anything and my grammar was close to being correct. peace and liberty, rich

Hey Rich. Good work on the spelling and grammar. We look forward to your discovery of capitalization: But seriously, did you READ the post? Mitch has presented a compelling argument (based on excellent research by the DeSmogBlog’s dogged Nathanael Baker), that the “road to serfdom” is being plotted and paved by a cxlass of “nobles” (and I use the term ironically) who are determined to preserve an unfair advantage that is leaving many Americans in penury and many more without health care coverage. You ignore Mitch’s argument entirely and point out the legitimate weaknesses in pieces of legislation that these same self-interested scoundrels have demanded. I mean, you can go on believing in a socialist conspiracy to … (to do what? provide health care to poor people?), but couldn’t you try a little harder to address the issue in your comments. Couldn’t you, for example, offer a theory other than obscene self-interest for Richard Scott’s machinations?

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didn’t read the article. had a hard time taking it seriously when i saw exxon funding numbers in the second paragraph. 80 B by our gov in spending, carbon trading reaching 120B in 2008 and 300 M from your leader at The Climate Project and all that is ever mentioned is big bad exxon. it makes it seem as though nothing could be worth reading after that. h/e i am now compelled to read the remainder since i have been “caught” and wouldn’t you know it was worth reading. maybe desmog should cut out all the hype and bullshit and more people would read the entire story. maybe just maybe both sides could do that and guys like me could draw better conclusions. (the spelling sarcasm was in response to richard c btw)

==”So what do the voices shrilly opposing health care and energy reform have in common? Money. Both stand to lose big if Obama succeeds in enacting the agenda the American people elected him to do.”==

I get it. When you oppose American government policy, it is “democratic dissent”. When someone else opposes American government policy, they are “shrill” and in the thrall of “big money”.

When the left organizes through groups like MoveOn and Acorn, it is “community organization”. When anyone else does it, it is “astroturfing”.

==”The Manhattan Institute has so far received $235,000 from ExxonMobil”==

Wow. Another penny. Bill Clinton and Al Gore get more then that for a 60 minute speech!

“I get it. When you oppose American government policy, it is “democratic dissent”. When someone else opposes American government policy, they are “shrill” and in the thrall of “big money”.

When that someone else uses shrill language to distort the health care issues (e.g. “Obama wants to kill the elderly”) and is primarily coming from the private health industry, yes that is fair comment to call it that, not a double standard as you seem to suggest.

“When the left organizes through groups like MoveOn and Acorn, it is “community organization”. When anyone else does it, it is “astroturfing”.

You obviously have no idea what astroturf means. Let me help: groups like MoveOn are run and organized by the members themselves. MoveOn raises money for the Democratic Party and for causes the party supports. Acorn is supported financially by unions and individual donations. Actions are decided on and carried out by local Acorn groups. Astroturf groups are run and organized by corporations pretending to be neighborhood grassroots citizen campaigns. They are funded and directed by corporations, not their members.

From Wikipedia:
“Unlike genuine grassroots activism which tends to be money-poor but people-rich, astroturf campaigns are typically people-poor but cash-rich. Funded heavily by corporate largesse, they use sophisticated computer databases, telephone banks and hired organizers to rope less-informed activists into sending letters to their elected officials or engaging in other actions that create the appearance of grassroots support for their client’s cause.”

$235,000, yep, not a lot, because it doesn’t take a lot. The success of many left-wing groups who operate on shoe-string budgets proves it doesn’t take a lot to be effective. So?

move on is funded by google - yeah they have a few bucks

and Big Pharma intends to spend 150 m on TV spots in support of Obama’s health care thing - grass roots everywhere!

well no - basically there is no such thing as grass roots
______

hey nice new edit feature - I just noticed

Just like I said. MoveOn is an astroturf organization for the Democratic Party. Billionaires such as George Soros and Linda Pritzker have given millions to MoveOn. MoveOn largely exists to funnel millions of dollars more to the Democratic Party.

You really should brush up on what astroturfing actually means.

And believe me, we all know what “shrill” is. Democrats shrilly proclaimed that their own United States Supreme Court “stole” the election from them in 2000. And Democrats were the shrillest of the shrill in supporting the 911 Truther movement, etc., etc.. In fact, I think the left has a patent on “shrill”. ;)

Wrong, Paul. I went to see Bill Clinton when he spoke in Winnipeg in 2004 and he made maybe half of that, with much of the proceeds going to the Clinton Global Foundation. I was glad to know that a fair chunk of my $125 ticket was going to a good cause. (And I was not, nor am, rich. I was a full-time university student.)

Clinton and Gore have both become multi-millionaires peddling their schtick. Sure they give some to charity, that is their ruse for getting their millions.

Why don’t both live simple lives and preach their message instead of pocketing so much money?

Why doesn’t Lee Raymond, instead of pocketing a $400 million severance package when he retired, donate it to an R&D fund for renewable energy or a fund to reverse the results of his former company’s (ExxonMobil’s) activities? Where’s your criticism of his extravagant lifestyle? His lifestyle would make Clinton and Gore’s lifestyle look like those of the Slumdogs in the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

If someone is going to tell me I “have to” radically change my lifestyle and live with less, then I expect them to do the same. Clinton and Gore do neither. Why would I pay any attention to what they say?

Can you imagine Ghandi (were he alive today) charging people $3,000 a minute to hear his message like Clinton will be charging when he gives his speech at the CNE later this month?

I don’t believe or trust either Clinton or Gore. To me, they are simply profiteering off of people’s fears.

Yeah, Paul S is right on the money. These guys give some of the money to charity, but they’ve already cashed in big time. While millions of Americans are out there getting
debt consolidation loans, these guys are raking it in.

Why are the same groups fighting these policies or initiatives?

Well money certainly enters the picture. I also suspect that in general these groups feel that Obama is just not good for them and so they don’t wish him much success in anything. They want his first term to look like a failure in order to ensure there is no second term. Thats my suspicion. Whether Obama is actually good or bad, I haven’t decided yet.

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MoveOn is an astroturf organization for the Democratic Party. Billionaires such as George Soros and Linda Pritzker have given millions to MoveOn. MoveOn largely exists to funnel millions of dollars more to the Democratic Party.buy lexapro medication online

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