Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Americans Were Had: Big Pharma Super-Sleaze in Action

If you don't think Obamacare is a sleazy crony deal, read on. The key author of the legislation just took a job with Big Pharma.

By Glenn Greenwald

When the legislation that became known as "Obamacare" was first drafted, the key legislator was the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, whose committee took the lead in drafting the legislation. As Baucus himself repeatedly boasted, the architect of that legislation was Elizabeth Folwer, his chief health policy counsel; indeed, as Marcy Wheeler discovered, it was Fowler who actually drafted it. As Politico put it at the time: "If you drew an organizational chart of major players in the Senate health care negotiations, Fowler would be the chief operating officer."
What was most amazing about all of that was that, before joining Baucus' office as the point person for the health care bill, Fowler was the Vice President for Public Policy and External Affairs (i.e. informal lobbying) at WellPoint, the nation's largest health insurance provider (before going to WellPoint, as well as after, Folwer had worked as Baucus' top health care aide). And when that health care bill was drafted, the person whom Fowler replaced as chief health counsel in Baucus' office, Michelle Easton, was lobbying for WellPoint as a principal at Tarplin, Downs, and Young.
Whatever one's views on Obamacare were and are: the bill's mandate that everyone purchase the products of the private health insurance industry, unaccompanied by any public alternative, was a huge gift to that industry; as Wheeler wrote at the time: "to the extent that Liz Fowler is the author of this document, we might as well consider WellPoint its author as well." Watch the five-minute Bill Moyers report from 2009, embedded below, on the key role played in all of this by Liz Fowler and the "revolving door" between the health insurance/lobbying industry and government officials at the time this bill was written and passed.
More amazingly still, when the Obama White House needed someone to oversee implementation of Obamacare after the bill passed, it chose . . . Liz Fowler. That the White House would put a former health insurance industry executive in charge of implementation of its new massive health care law was roundly condemned by good government groups as at least a violation of the "spirit" of governing ethics rules and even "gross", but those objections were, of course, brushed aside by the White House. She then became Special Assistant to the President for Healthcare and Economic Policy at the National Economic Council.
Now, as Politico's "Influence" column briefly noted on Tuesday, Fowler is once again passing through the deeply corrupting revolving door as she leaves the Obama administration to return to the loving and lucrative arms of the private health care industry:

"Elizabeth Fowler is leaving the White House for a senior-level position leading 'global health policy' at Johnson & Johnson's government affairs and policy group."
Read the rest here.


  1. Anybody catch those squeals of outrage over at the NY Times over this?

    Didn't think so...

    So, is it the internet, or are the players just getting more and more blatant?

  2. Due to the partnership between Big Pharma and government, this may be among the sleaziest industries in the world.

    I once went to an Eli Lilly employment seminar; in an attempt to show interest and brains (or so I thought), I asked a question about one of the drugs they were showcasing. It was noncontroversial. I was sitting in the audience, and the female mid-level manager (also a pharmacist) approached me with intense eyes, saying in a poorly crafted attempt at subtlety, that I should, in effect, shut up. I may sound paranoid, but my previous limited knowledge about government and pharma thirsted for more. I just knew somehow that this woman was trying to hide something from my simple questioning, and she was weeding me out. They definitely want push-button people, especially if they're attractive women.

    I also met a group of well-dressed delinquents who were bottom-feeder gate-keepers for Johnson and Johnson (at a jobs fair). While it's very appropriate to send the lowest foot soldier to represent at a jobs fair, these kids were the rudest bunch at there. They were completely dismissive, and acted like the immmature idiots they were.

    I have my own flaws, but I couldn't help but feel that the pharmaceutical industry was a crime-syndicate trying to be as glamourous as drug-pushing allows.

    Separating them from government would give them the huge beating they deserve. They need to earn a real living, and stop abusing the public with tax-funded R&D, patents, greasing doctor's palms, forcing-feeding school kids, and being in the drive to force us to buy health insurance. Like all fascist companies, they want forced customers.

  3. I remember when David Kessler (a poster child for the "Good Govt." bunch, BTW) was speaking to a congressional committee back when he was FDA commish. He stated that his primary goal was to winnow the number of pharma companies down to four or five "the better to control them". I assume the same for Medical Device companies.
    I've never seen a better example of fascism.

  4. People are in love with ideas and not objective facts. It starts when they wake up in the morning and look in the mirror. Just look at the billions spent each year on diet pills, surgery, etc. People are in love with the idea of free health care. But it simply is not a fact on many levels. Free does not exist, but the idea is too alluring to not believe in, enter a fat burning pill. The public option is also a joke, it would not be cheaper. Maybe the prices would be cheaper because it would have to be subsidized like the US Post Office, offering cheaper rates on packages. Enter 16bn loss last year.

  5. Glenn Greenwald seems like a single-payer, state run "health" care type of guy to me, but I couldn't find a column of his expressly advocating for it. Instead, as stated in his 2/23/2010 Salon column, he takes the position that: "once the Government is going to mandate that all citizens purchase health insurance, it is preferable to provide an option to purchase a public plan rather than forcing everyone to buy from the private health insurance industry." Anybody know whether he has taken a public position against (or for) state control of health care as against a free and voluntary market?

    1. GG is great in foreign policy, and calling out crony capitalists.

      He is, though, a dyed-in-the-wool commie. It's sad when someone so bright, incisive and intelligent cannot see that his desire for government control of ALL aspects of society is tantamount to destroying the things he loves.

      Maybe one day he will discover Austrian Econ, and regain his soul.

  6. Glen Greenwald in his 2/23/2010 Salon column: "once the Government is going to mandate that all citizens purchase health insurance, it is preferable to provide an option to purchase a public plan rather than forcing everyone to buy from the private health insurance industry." Anybody know whether he has taken a position for or against state-controlled care as against a free market? I couldn't find anything, which I find interesting. Perhaps health care has been so regulated and cartelized for so long, it is difficult for him to approach from a free market perspective. Might Greewald be open to considering freed market solutions?

    1. Seeing your double post made me wonder- was it a glitch, did you rewrite it, or was it from an iPad and just BS? I really like your comments JJ!

  7. Dale it might be a technical error or something. I wish if you could write something about diabetic lead.