Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Being Lobbyists

CNN reports that there are 6 to 1 lobbyists in Washington compared to our representatives with nearly $280 million spent on the health care debate. These numbers are the highest in the history of our country. Do you think our voices are being heard amid such special interests? Our reprensentative democracy seems in peril.


Marion said...

I think this is a big part of why our country doesn't have a health care plan. When my son-in-law was still in college studying pre-med, the pharmaceutical companies were offering he and his fellow 'hungry' students fancy dinners at the best restaurants in town 'free'. They start really early--- Great post, Judith. Blessings!!

Judith Ellis said...

I agree, Marion. A relative has run a successful medical billing business for years. It's amazing how often pharamceutical reps visits doctor offices and hospitals bearing gifts.

Pfizer recently had to pay a multi-million dollar judgement ($25 million I think) to a former employee, a veteran, after he stood up for safety concerns.

"The LOVE of money is the root of all evil." The lives of people seem secondary when huge profits are involved for many of these companies.

Judith Ellis said...

I must also say that some pharmaceutical companies do a lot of good in developing countries by making meds more accessible like basic penicillin. This is good. But there does seem to always be an impossibility of simply doing good when huge profits are concerned.

Some might say that such companies are doing good by boosting the economy through stock options, beside the good done that sustain life. Let's not talk about the drug commercials that end with "ask your doctor about ________ (insert the newest drug for sale) may cause blindness, deafness...."

Also, let's not talk about prescription drug that may be by far more insidious than illegal ones. Oh, my! There is much to consider which the people themselves cannot be excused.

septembermom said...

Have you ever had a dream/nightmare where you are trying to yell but no one can hear you? I feel like that the true America's voice of the people is muted. How frustrating that our voice is drowned out by special interest influence and greed.

Judith Ellis said...

I understand that feeling, Kelly. But we must fight. We must listen to each other. We must demand to be heard.

Dave Wheeler said...


This goes to your previous post on electoral/campaign reform. The ability to gain access to our elected representatives and to have meaningful input into the laws and programs as they are being developed costs. It's hilarious when the PAC's and special interest groups resist limitations on their ability to spend on advertising on the basis of free speech. $$$$$= access and influence. It's not just healthcare. Our voices aren't being heard on many substantive issues such as housing, education, childcare, and workplace reforms.

So when you're elected Auntie J...I'm right there for ya!

Judith Ellis said...

Dave, my friend - Thank you for your vote of confidence. It makes me happy. But I don't see that happening anytime soon if at all. But thanks anyway! :-)

You are right about the far-reaching ability of lobbyists in so many areas. I think, however, that health care is particularly vital because of the hundreds of billions made and funds given to campaigns.

I think I read that the insurance industry nets $650 BILLION DOLLARS annually. I'm afraid a lot of that, as President Obama recounted tonight in a story by a former executive, is gained by not providing provisions for medical needs, even though premiums were paid.

Dave Wheeler said...


Just read an excellent article in the 8/17 Business Week "Health Reform, Why Insurers are Winning". It details the way they have "lobbied" BOTH PARTIES and shaped the debate and will emerge a winner and more profitable regardless of the specifics of the legislation gets passed. Big Pharma money, Health Insurance industry money, Trial Lawyers money all influence healthcare decisions and not for the benefits of us...the ultimate consumers...but benefit the politicians they "employ".

There is some common ground and I do believe that coverage for pre-existing conditions, access to coverage, and a prohibition of canceling coverage will be addressed in the reform legislation.

I also wonder if we could convince some of the insurance executives to leave their jobs and manage some of our inefficient and ineffective government programs like the Postal Service or Medicare/Medicaid. This could increase confidence in the government's ability to manage something...anything!

Judith Ellis said...

Thanks, Dave. I'll check out the article.

"I also wonder if we could convince some of the insurance executives to leave their jobs and manage some of our inefficient and ineffective government programs like the Postal Service or Medicare/Medicaid. This could increase confidence in the government's ability to manage something...anything!"

Are you suggesting here that the same unethical executives whose practices are downright disgusting will now be ethical in their handling of government programs and that this will be more benefical to the people? It is rare that the same people who got us in such mess will be able to get us out of it.

I must also say that I disagree with the premise that government can't manage anything. Medicaid/Medicare, the post office, DOD, etc., have issues but imagine where we would be without them? There is waste and abuse in teh DOD, do we say get rid of it? These programs and deparments are functioning, although they could do so much better. It's a fallacy to think that government should not exist or be so small as to strangle it.

It's also hypocritical, as government has worked for big business for our benefit, especially for programs such as interstate highways and railroads, quite well. It can, however, work better. As with anything, constant reform is necessary or there will be corruption and lax regulation.

Another question: "Why must government not have a human face? Is this not a government for and by the people?

Dave Wheeler said...


My comment was part tongue in cheek but they do lead profitable organizations. As a consumer I find some of their business practices reprehensible but aren't those who are responsible for oversight and regulation equally responsible for allowing them they operate their industry in an "unethical" manner? Are they insurance companies business practices unlawful? At least these executives are "accountable" to their boards and shareholders. Who is the Postmaster General accountable to? Amtrack's Administrator? The Department of Education's Secretary?

My problem has nothing to do with the size of government as it does the rampant inefficiency and ineffectiveness of it. One always has two options when it comes business management and funding sources and doing one hell of a lot better with the resources you already have. Isn't it about time that option number two is also included. Eliminating waste and inefficiencies in Medicare/Medicaid and imposing taxes on insurance companies, drug companies and medical equipment companies is gonna make this deficit neutral? Taxes and revenues get collected in 2010 yet the plan isn't implemented until 2013...Ten years of revenue collection pays for 7 years of "service". It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

It will be evident to all if this is really about passing an affordable and effective piece of legislation or if it's about doing something before the 2010 mid term elections. Government has a face...a monolithic, partisan, bickering, and gridlocked one. Will be interesting to see how this debate and legislation changes that...