Records Show corporate-backed think tank network lobbying against Medicare For All

The State Policy Network (SPN), the coordinating group for a network of corporate-friendly state-level think tanks, lobbied the federal government against Medicare for All, according to recently filed lobbying disclosure records reviewed by Documented.

In addition to its lobbying efforts against Medicare for All, SPN has worked in recent years to encourage public sector workers to leave their unions, and to undermine campaign finance and non profit disclosure laws. Documented has previously reported on both of these SPN projects.

SPN does not reveal the names of it donors, but a 2010 list that was mistakingly made public revealed contributions from the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, Microsoft, Philip Morris, Altria, and AT&T. The group’s annual meeting in October 2019 received financial support from Google, Facebook, MasterCard, and WellsFargo. The Charles G. Koch Foundation has also provided support.

Guidance for SPN’s think tanks discussing healthcare reform, published on its website: “Describe the effects of bad reforms like Medicare for All/Some, not the details—bad reforms will decrease access to and the quality of healthcare, with increased wait times and government rationing of care.”

The effects of America’s free market healthcare system, which too often puts the interest of profit ahead of care, are widely understood. A November 2019 Gallup poll showed that 63% of those polled think the U.S. healthcare system has “major problems” or is “in crisis.” A further 35% said that it has “minor problems”, and only 2% are fully satisfied with the way things stand.

For many years, medical costs have been the primary cause of bankruptcies in the U.S.. A 2019 academic study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, showed that the Affordable Care Act has not stopped this. According to the research, and reported by CNBC, 530,000 families file for bankruptcy each year because of unaffordable medical expenses, amounting to 66.5% of all bankruptcies.

Average life expectancy in the U.S. is worse than all other developed countries. A recent investigation published by the Hill described how few doctors there are in the U.S. compared to other western countries: “Surprisingly, the U.S. has relatively few practicing physicians: 2.6 for every 1,000 people compared to more than 4 for every 1,000 people in Norway, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.”

The Hill:

“And despite having fewer doctors, U.S. health spending totals more than $10,000 per person per year, mainly due to private insurance costs (premiums and employer-sponsored coverage) the report found. At $4,092 per capita, American private spending is more than five times higher than Canada, the second-highest spender and more than six times that of Australia. The amount of public health care spending in the U.S. is similar to many other countries.”

“The lack of access to primary care results in one of the highest rates of hospitalizations for preventable conditions and the highest rate of avoidable deaths. Hospitalizations related to diabetes and hypertension, considered preventable with sufficient access to primary care, are approximately 50 percent higher in America than the OECD average.”

Photo of Medicare for All Rally Los Angeles, Feb 2017, by Molly Adams. Used under creative commons license.

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