Big Pharma Funding Vinny DeMarco for HB631 Support

If you’ve noticed the incessant Tweeting and supporting coming from the Maryland Health Care for All Coalition regarding HB 631, we’ve cracked the code as to why. As it turns out, the parent group of the Maryland Health Care for All Coalition is being funded by one of the potential benefactors of the bill’s passage.

The rumor going around Annapolis was that Maryland Health Care for All, which is a Vinny DeMarco outfit, was being funded by Kaiser Permanente to support this bill. Such a contribution would not appear on any records of the Maryland Health Care for All Coalition or its parent organization, the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative Education Fund, Inc., until their 2017 taxes were filed.

So instead of waiting for tax records to appear, we went directly to the source and asked Kaiser Permanente’s Government Relations Department if they were involved with providing funding for the group. Their answer will not surprise you:

Fw: HB 631 in Maryland <> Fri, Apr 7, 2017 at 6:22 PM

Hi there,

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Mr. Barrueta is traveling, so your inquiry was referred to me.  Kaiser Foundation Health Plans and Hospitals have not contributed to Maryland Healthcare for All.  We have supported a related organization, Maryland Citizens Health Initiative Education Fund Inc.

Thank you for your time and for reaching out,

Jaime E Mulligan
Senior Communication Director, Government Relations

This means that the Maryland Health Care for All Coalition’s fervent support for House Bill 631 was directly tied to the funding received by the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative Education Fund from Kaiser Permanente.

You shouldn’t act so surprised that a Vinny DeMarco organization was involved in selling itself to support a bill at the behest of a large corporation. After all Vinny DeMarco’s Faith United Against Tobacco was  a creature of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Campaign for Tobacco-Free kids was a direct but secret ally of Altria in the push to pass the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. He took money from big tobacco while pretending to be their foe. So why wouldn’t he take money from big pharma while pretending to be their foe, too?

Why would Kaiser Foundation Health Plans and Hospital want to support House Bill 631? Because the bill itself is aimed at generic pharmaceuticals. As our Jerry Rogers said last week;

If fewer affordable generic medicines are available in Maryland, patients suffer and healthcare costs will skyrocket. H.B. 631 will push generic competitors out of the state while its massive, new regulatory regime will add costs to the rising expense of producing these drugs.

By artificially interfering in this marketplace, the Maryland state legislature will establish a burdensome bureaucracy that will drive up medical costs and limit patient choice. The political class, not patients, will rule the marketplace, destroying competition.

By pushing generic competitors out of state through higher costs and new regulatory regime, few groups would be well positioned to benefit from such a major change. And one such group would just happen to be the Kaiser Foundation Health Plans and Hospitals, who have a prescription drug division that would greatly benefit from reduced competition from generic drug manufacturers.

As always when it comes to Maryland, especially Vinny DeMarco, follow the money. And the money shows that DeMarco’s group is supporting HB 631 thanks to a payoff from a major pharmaceutical company that stands to benefit from higher prices on prescription drugs.

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