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This week in Tarbell
Medicare for Whom? Medicare sales pitches ramp up this time of year. This week, Trudy Lieberman reminds us that Congress and the health industry are trying to shoulder minimal amounts of the cost through the plans they promote, and taxpayers often inherit that burden.
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Notable Investigations and Solutions
Trade Unions Against Drug Transparency: Big Pharma is recruiting more and more industry associations to fight expected Democratic legislation injecting transparency into health bills. The latest to join is the Pharmaceutical Industry Labor-Management Association.
Automakers Pushed to Switch Lanes: Sometimes lobbying works in the opposite direction. Giants in the auto industry, including GM and Toyota, originally refused to take a stance on California’s desire to set their auto emissions cap lower than the federal limit. They swerved under pressure from the Trump administration.
Big Pharma Wants to Export US Price Tags: The U.K.’s Channel4 this week caused a stir with a report showing that U.S. pharmaceutical companies are lobbying the U.K.’s National Health Service to raise drug prices throughout the nation. But the post-Brexit move might provoke a clash over trade deals after the U.K. leaves the European Union.
I haven’t been able to find a video of that U.K. broadcast, but you can read Channel4’s article here.
(Corporate) Climate Solutions: The Senate’s Climate Solutions Caucus intends to change America’s wasteful and polluting habits, but its leadership may already be leaning toward energy companies’ needs. Sludge found that the caucus’s co-chairs are known for taking five-figures worth of sponsorship from oil and gas companies.
Big Tech Wielding Power on K Street: As heat from Congress and potential Democratic candidates starts scorching Big Tech, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google are all ratcheting up their spending to unprecedented levels. And Facebook has become the second biggest spender in lobbying in the whole nation.
Meanwhile, CNBC notes that Facebook is rolling out a range of journalism support programs and publisher platforms, which might be a convenient distraction from their status as a modern monopoly.
Spotlight on Local Reporting
“Cancer Alley” Metastasizes: Louisiana contains a massive stretch of industrial zones that carries the sorry title for most polluted region of the country. And an investigation by Propublica, The Time-Picayune and The Advocate show that more factories are moving in, and the pollution is getting unbearable.
Kentucky’s Climate Crisis: Flash floods have been a common phenomenon throughout the state for generations, but people living in Kentucky today notice the storms are getting worse, yet state government won’t budge from its climate change denial.
VA Abortion Lobbying Heats Up: The federal court may have blocked state bans on abortion, but the timing of when an abortion can happen is still under debate. And the current battleground for that debate is Virginia, where opening health care access would also expand access to abortion. You can bet both sides are lobbying up.
Lobbyists Weren’t Scorched in CA Fires: California utility company Pacific Gas & Energy turned the lights out on customers, but not their lobbying. The company already contributed $150,000 to federal candidates since they filed bankruptcy.