Under The Influence, Tarbell's Weekly Newsletter

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This Week In Tarbell

The health industry — from insurance and pharma to whole health systems —has become dominated by just a few gigantic companies. And though the government has finally started to stall or block certain mergers, these health companies have come up with new ways to consolidate, making doctors like Dr. Raymond Feierabend nervous.

Click Here To Read Dr. Feierabend’s Latest Column — “Why I Worry About The Health Care Merger Craze — On Tarbell.org

How much is at stake for the health care industry in the 2020 election? A lot, if early campaign finance reports are any indication. Tarbell looked into the top 20 health industry donors in the 2017-18 election cycle (according to Open Secrets data) to see who — and what — they are trying to influence this year.

Click Here To Read The Story — “Big Health Has Already Dumped $1.2 Million Into the 2020 Election — On Tarbell.org

 

Notable Reporting and Solutions

This might not be news to you, but it’s a landmark in research:  a new study out of UC Santa Barbara connects the failure of the U.S. and other developed countries to address climate change to the convoluted political process — and the army of lobbyists and special interests — who watered down or modified legislation away from known mitigation and prevention tactics.

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Real estate mogul Franklin Haney’s $1 million contribution to President Trump’s inaugural committee was uncannily timed:  simultaneously, Haney was trying to acquire Alabama’s Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant. Federal prosecutors are now reviewing the donation, AP reports.

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Threatened by estimates that Medicare For All would cost community hospitals $151 billion a year, the health systems are teaming up against Democrats supporting the broad expansion of coverage.

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As a part of the Trump administrations massive effort to , the administration and its actors are now trying to undermine the existing and established scientific knowledge of human-caused climate change, refusing to publish the future impact reports and creating a new climate assessment panel to antagonize existing reports.

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Remember when Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao pledged to divest from the construction materials company that does business with her agency? She doesn’t, or at least she has not yet acted on the promise she made more than one year ago.

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Don’t get me started on the Cambodian government… The government of longest ruling Prime Minister Hun Sen hired yet another foreign lobbyist, this time a former advisor to retired House Speaker John Boehner, joining the corrupt government’s growing legion of US lobbyists.

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It’s been more than a year since a Pentagon department spokesperson has released information in a public on-camera briefing, and reporters worry that Defense will continue to clam up.

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Prompted by a ProPublica investigation on the undisclosed gifts used to influence insurance brokers’ choices in health care plans, legislators added disclosure requirements onto a health bill up for debate.

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Spotlight on Local Reporting

The $60,000 in payments that Arkansas‘ Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson accepted in 2013-14 from a Missouri health care executives finally caught up to him. The U.S. District Court in Western Missouri indicted him this week for bribery.

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Also out in Arkansas, lobbyists spent more than $710,000 on state legislators in the past four months alone, with more than $111,000 spent by one lobbyist hoping to pass an unsuccessful bill that would allow optometrists to perform more surgeries.

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Ohio’s House passed a bill last week that would dismantle the previously established clean energy mandates. The bill was highly contentious, but lobbying from building trades unions pushed 10 Democrats to vote in its favor.

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A Chevron lobbyist is trying to prevent the expansion of electric cars in Arizona with a letter campaign targeting the state’s older residents.

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The Illinois legislators who will decide the fate of a proposed video gambling tax hike have investments in the industry, ProPublica reports.

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The New York Health Act is on the table, and a lot of businesses are expressing opinions about the possibility of bringing single-payer to New York, Albany Business Review reports.

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