Hosted by corporate lobbyists, several staffers for democratic lawmakers of the United States attended a relaxing and luxurious retreat in Middleburg, Virginia this past weekend undermining single-payer insurance as millions of Americans and progressive lawmakers make a push to support Medicare for All at the grassroots level. There were “around four dozen senior congressional staffers decamped for a weekend of relaxation and discussion at Salamander Resort & Spa” including chiefs of staff for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), The Intercept reported.
The event was hosted by Center Forward, a group consisting of registered corporate lobbyists, who is known to “oppose social welfare spending, taxes on the wealthy, and regulations on business” in affiliation with Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats.
“This event wasn’t about fixing the healthcare system,” Wendell Potter, president of the Business Initiative for Health Policy, said. “It was about protecting the healthcare industry, no matter the cost to patients, families, workers, or employers. The industry is the root cause of our healthcare crisis.”
As Medicare for All gains support in Congress, healthcare industry lobbyists have “increased their donations to DCCC,” Common Dreams reported.
“Center Forward’s big idea on Medicare Part D, for instance, is to maintain lobbyist-authored provisions of the law that bar the government from bargaining for lower prices for medicine,” Lee Fang, contributor at The Intercept wrote in a report. “Such restrictions cost taxpayers and patients as much as $73 billion a year while boosting the profits of drug makers.”
And with Medicare for All bills introduced in both the House and Senate as well as a first-ever congressional hearing before the House Rules Committee, both the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are bringing out all the stops.
Potter, a former insurance industry executive concluded that any “congressional staffer serious about finding solutions wouldn’t touch that retreat with a 10-foot pole.”