PICKET: Energy and Commerce investigation reveal secret deal cut by WH with PhRMA on health care reform

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House Speaker John Boehner’s Office released the following statement regarding a House Energy and Commerce Committee memo that details its “year-long investigation” into President Barack Obama’s health care law and whether or not the legislation was created in exchange for “specific policy outcomes for public support of the law.” : (entire statement italicized below)

Today the Majority Staff on the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a memorandum on its year-long investigation into the manner in which the President’s health care law was constructed and whether “deals” were made that exchanged specific policy outcomes for public support of the law. Drawing from hundreds of pages of private emails – obtained without White House cooperation – the memo outlines the specific policies the administration accepted to win the support of the pharmaceutical industry, the tactics employed to strike a deal, and the astonishing extent to which the White House said one thing in public and did another behind closed doors. As the report explains:

The report goes is detailed here:

“Documents obtained through the investigation confirm the existence of a deal between the White House and PhRMA. The deal included explicit policy commitments, affirmed in a closed-door meeting at the White House on July 7, 2009…And in its review of the tactics used by the White House, the investigation identified a potent combination of policy threats and private reassurances that industry would be protected against policies it disliked in exchange for support of the legislation and acceptance of other policies. Taken together, these findings help illuminate a previously opaque series of agreements that resulted in a fundamental reshaping of our nation’s health care system.”

Emails obtained by the Committee demonstrate a close working relationship between senior White House officials – Rahm Emanuel, Nancy-Ann DeParle, and Jim Messina – and lobbyists from PhRMA. In fact, the investigation shows the White House promised “a direct line of communication, separate and apart from any other coalition” for PhRMA – a “special interest” group that candidate Obama promised to fight against in Washington. Yet, despite his tough words in public, PhRMA lobbyists were given reassurances the President was supportive of the private deal-making.

From: Bryant Hall
Sent: Friday, June 12 2009 7:00 PM
To: Neal Comstock; Mimi Simoneaux Kneuer; Ken Johnson, Billy Tauzin
Subject: Background for Board

Obviously—below just context.

Here’s the stuff. Background is that the Pres’s words are harmless. He knows personally about our deal and is pushing no agenda…

The Committee report details the major policy concessions the White House made to PhRMA – not only what changes the industry would accept, but also the extent to which the White House would protect PhRMA – promising to “kill” measures proposed by congressional Democrats but opposed by industry. In one email, White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle told PhRMA’s top lobbyist that the President would reverse his position and oppose a particular drug policy “based on how constructive you guys have been.” In the end, emails show that PhRMA believed it “got a good deal.” In return for that good deal, the White House secured PhRMA’s support of the legislation – support that came not just in the form of public statements, but financial commitments for advertising campaigns to sway public opinion. As today’s memo concludes:

“In its summary of the agreement, PhRMA outlined a series of advertising campaigns it would undertake in support of health care reform legislation – a topic the committee intends to examine in greater detail.”

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About the Author
Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket, a former Opinion Blogger/Editor of The Watercooler, was associate producer for the Media Research Center, a content producer for Robin Quivers of "The Howard Stern Show" on Sirius satellite radio and a production assistant and copy writer at MTV.

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