Covid-19: Doctors Demand Hospital Industry Stop Funding Dark Money Lobby Group

Progressive physicians are pressing the American Hospital Association to support patients and healthcare workers during the pandemic instead of wasting money on a lobby group that opposes universal coverage, Jake Johnson reports. 

National Nurses United on April 13, 2020, protest lack of personal protective equipment at UCLA Medical Center. (Marcy Winograd, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

A progressive organization of 23,000 physicians from across the U.S. demanded last week that the American Hospital Association (AHA) divest completely from a dark-money lobbying group that has spent millions combating Medicare for All and instead devote those financial resources to the fight against Covid-19 and to better support for patients and healthcare workers.

Dr. Adam Gaffney, president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), said in a statement that “the Covid-19 pandemic has stretched hospitals’ resources to the limit, and the AHA should not waste precious member hospitals’ funds lobbying against universal health coverage” as a member of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PFAHCF).

Because Medicare for All would provide a lifeline to hospitals in underserved areas that have been hit hard by Covid-19, Gaffney argued, the AHA “cannot claim to represent hospitals while also opposing a single-payer system that would keep struggling hospitals open.” The AHA represents around 5,000 hospitals and other healthcare providers in the U.S.

As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, public health officials are accusing the Trump administration of directing billions of dollars in Covid-19 hospital bailout funds to high-revenue providers while restricting money to hospitals that serve low-income areas.

Tenet Healthcare, an investor-owned hospital company that has donated hundreds of thousands to PFAHCF, has received $345 million in Covid-19 bailout funds, Axios reported last month.

“The AHA should immediately leave the PFAHCF,” Gaffney said, “and redirect that money to supporting patients and frontline healthcare workers.”

“As physicians, we can no longer tolerate a health system that puts profits ahead of patients and public health,” Gaffney added. “It’s time for health professionals to hold accountable the organizations that claim to represent us.”

Formed in the summer of 2018 by an alliance of pharmaceutical, insurance, and hospital lobbyists with the goal of countering the push for universal healthcare, PFAHCF’s anti-Medicare for All “army” has grown rapidly since its founding, with the AHA joining the fray in 2019.

As The Intercept reported last October, the for-profit hospital industry has played an “integral role” in the corporate fight against single-payer.

“America’s hospitals and health systems strongly support improving patient access to health coverage for all Americans,” Rick Pollack, AHA’s president and CEO, wrote in a blog post last February. “That’s why we’ve joined with the American Medical Association and others as part of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future to build on the strength of the existing reforms.”

The American Medical Association dropped out of PFAHCF last year in the face of protests from doctors and nurses, and now healthcare workers are pressuring AHA to do the same.

PNHP said it originally planned to protest outside of the AHA’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in April but has been forced by the coronavirus pandemic to take its pressure campaign online, “with tactics such as a petition and letter-writing campaign directed at AHA officials.”

Rev. Richard Ellerbrake, president emeritus of Deaconess Health System in St. Louis wrote in a letter to AHA board members that “it often seemed to me that the AHA was ahead of the American Medical Association (AMA) on many important issues of the day.”

“Today I would hope the AHA would follow the example of the AMA and discontinue supporting the PFAHCF,” wrote Ellerbrake.

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams. Follow him on Twitter: @johnsonjakep

This article is from Common Dreams.

Please Contribute to Consortium News’ 25th Anniversary Spring Fund Drive

Donate securely with PayPal here

Or securely by credit card or check by clicking the red button:

4 comments for “Covid-19: Doctors Demand Hospital Industry Stop Funding Dark Money Lobby Group

  1. GMCasey
    May 28, 2020 at 13:42

    If all Americans had access to health insurance, it would seem that the lobbyist types would see more money coming in while more people had access to health care. What is wrong with that scenario? Covid19 is a perfect example of why we need Healthcare for All.
    What exactly do We the People get for taxpayer dollars? Oh yes, the opportunity for many of us to become cannon fodder in America’s endless wars—and now we have an opportunity to overwhelm the funeral industry from the coronavirus. Oh, perhaps someone has decided that We the People is a tired old phrase, while WEE the People fits into a scheme where We , through disease and death become even less important and insignificant in this CRAPitalistic society. Are we less than robots now?

  2. TS
    May 28, 2020 at 12:08

    This money was obviously not “wasted”, but targeted quite effectively at the main purpose of the member organizations, maximizing their profits.

  3. May 28, 2020 at 10:06

    The flow of capital into oligarchy and corporate portfolios will continue until corporate business structures are banned from existence.

    Everyone seems content to march around with signs and cleverly worded posters, as if this will turn the tide of corporate fascism. Capitalist favor of corporate agendas will continue to circumvent any “protest” of the proletariat, and our fake “government” will continue to fail common interests… Civilians will continue to sleep walk toward mutual doom until such time as the corporate beast is slain once and for all.

    • Andrew Thomas
      May 28, 2020 at 18:04

      Amen, brother Paul.

Comments are closed.