Tuesday, March 13, 2007

PAC Man: Mike Rogers & Humana Inc.

Okay, before we get started, here's today's assignment: watch this clip from Michael Moore's old show on Bravo, The Awful Truth. It's only ten minutes long, but it should give you a pretty good idea of what today's PAC is all about. For the Michael Moore haters out there, just watch the clip before you automatically dismiss it.

Did you watch it yet? Good.

This lovely corporation's PAC, Humana Inc., gave Mike Rogers $2,500 during the 2006 election cycle, and $1000 during the 2004 campaign.

Now, compared to the $10,000 Mr. Rogers pocketed from Koch Industries during the '06 cycle, these two donations from Humana seem pretty small fry, but keep in mind that Rogers' $823,376 haul from PACs was built on a mountain of $2,500 donations. It seems like everyone owns a piece of Mike Rogers... except, of course, his constituents.

Here's something else to think about. Humana represents the broader healthcare industry, which of course is Mike Rogers #2 industry supporter (to the tune of $292,946). Considering how much the healthcare industry opposed the prescription drug bill earlier this year, and the fact that Humana sells Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, it's really no surprise that Mike Rogers voted NO vote on H.R. 4 back in January.

For those who need a refresher, H.R. 4 was written...

...to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate with pharmaceutical manufacturers the prices that may be charged to prescription drug plan sponsors and Medicare Advantage organizations for covered part D drugs for part D eligible individuals enrolled under a prescription drug plan or under a Medicare Advantage prescription drug (MA-PD) plan.

It's a pretty simple premise – buying medicine in bulk to reduce costs for medicare participants. Unfortunately, the idea was a little too simple for Mike Rogers, because he sided with healthcare companies like Humana, and voted against H.R. 4. Preserving profits for companies like Humana is clearly a priority for Rep. Rogers:

Commerce Committee Chairman Dingell suggested that the drug companies’ opposition was rooted in their profits. According to HHS, of the 43 million Medicare beneficiaries, about 22.5 million people, many of whom did not have prescription drug coverage before, have signed up for Part D, providing a boon to the drug companies.

“Those who insist that the sky is falling if the drug companies negotiate lower prices are arguing that those companies should continue to skin a fat hog at the expense of the taxpayers and the beneficiaries,” Dingell said.

Of course, there's nothing inherently wrong with companies seeking higher profits, but when corporate welfare trumps the needs of 22.5 million Americans, we have a problem.

Heck, even some republicans couldn't disagree with the logic behind H.R. 4:

One Republican, Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana, made the point that the government negotiates prices on everything from military equipment to the drug Cipro, which was used to fight anthrax attacks a few years ago. “To say we can’t negotiate on drug prices is just crazy,” he said. “I’m a Republican, Democrats are pushing this bill, but this should be bipartisan.” He voted in favor of the bill.

Unfortunately, this simple logic eluded Mike Rogers.

Remember folks, when Mike Rogers says he works "for you" keep in mind that he also works for a few Fortune 500 companies, like Humana, whose profits take priority over the needs of his constituents.

1 comment:

Sally York said...

Roger's hasn't found a corp pac that he doesn't like or takes money from.