Big Pharma Is Paying Patient Advocacy Groups to Oppose Medicare Changes

What’s going on between Big Pharma, Capitol Hill, lobbyists, and the masses?

There’s something going on between Big Pharma (major pharmaceutical companies), advocacy organizations, the general public, and lawmakers. For some people the details are a little too foggy, and they feel like the situation is too important to let mystery get involved. The overall situation and model of interaction is simple enough to explain on the surface. There are a group of particular pharmaceutical corporations who happen to be paying organizations that advocate to lawmakers for vulnerable and disabled individuals regarding decisions made on healthcare. In particular, these decisions influence the price and availability of prescription drugs for conditions ranging from cancer to mental health. This is not such a big deal, because it happens all of the time. One issue that needs addressing is whether the corporate funds come with a string attached and where does the back scratching happen if it happens at all? One another issue or question that some people asked with a raised eyebrow is why Big Pharma is even trying to have a say in what happens to healthcare law in the first place.

To really understand the circumstances in play and put a finger on the pulse of action, anyone interested in the turn of current events needs to understand the significance of Medicare Part D. In a nutshell, Medicare Part D boils down to making self-administered prescription drugs highly affordable for many people in the United States. That’s pretty much the only simple part about the cause and effect between the pharmaceutical companies, the lobbying organizations they support, and lawmakers. Like much of what goes on in Capitol Hill and Congress, healthcare is one of the big-ticket items that seem to get a major makeover with every new administration. Maybe that’s why pharma companies continue to fund advocate groups. Perhaps they see a chance to profit from the sway in political waters.

What is right, wrong, or worth noting in the situation?

Just because a chance to make a profit or maintain a status quo appears on the horizon that doesn’t mean that everything is on the level. In the case of pharmaceutical companies having an influence on what happens in healthcare, it almost looks like a catch-22 situation. Whether the White House or Congress decides to keep programs in place that cover the cost of prescriptions or choose to have citizens fend for themselves, the corporations win. Unless lawmakers can change the rules so that less expensive drugs for prescriptions and alternative methods for treating conditions are thrown into the formula, the situation doesn’t look good. In theory, it would mean more accessibility for people living on budgets, but there’s a flipside to that option. When something is a cheaper version of a product or service, there tends to be a noticeable difference in its basic quality. Think food chain lunch compared to an owner-operated eatery. One is usually better than the other but, it’s not a hard fast rule. To be fair, there are two facts in the cause and effect chain that do not point an accusatory finger at the pharmaceutical companies. For one, the contributions they make to the special interests groups that lobby lawmakers only accounts for a little more than 10 percent. And secondly, there is no evidence to suggest they see a return on the funds send to lobbying organizations. However, only half of all major pharmaceutical companies that fund advocacy groups have a paper trail attached. So in the end, nobody really knows just how much of an influence they have over what happens in the field of healthcare. That’s something of a problem because only the welfare of the people and citizenry should guide lawmaking processes.

Why does the situation need to change, and if so, what has to happen before it can come about?

Even though the circumstances surrounding what’s happening between major pharmaceutical companies and the possible changes to healthcare may seem complicated the answer doesn’t have to be. Many people see the opioid epidemic in the United States, which is very much a real thing, as the long and short result of what happens in the healthcare industry due to corporate influence. The way to make things right can be summed up in a single word; transparency. One simple solution to correct the current state of affairs is to make all payments funded to special interests groups disclosed by law.

Who are the major players in the arena and what are their apparent interests and agendas?

For a more in-depth look at what happens between major corporations and the advocacy groups they fund, Kaiser Health News has gathered information on the subject. This is not a news article or something with its own agenda. It’s just a database that shows who spends money and where it goes.