Get the latest on influence straight to your inbox! Subscribe to our newsletter here.
This Week in Tarbell
Where’s the change: Among the viral hashtags and debate commentary, more and more Americans are tweeting out their outrageous, unaffordable health care bills. This week, Trudy Lieberman argues that this is a sign that citizens do crave a universal health care system, but there are lots of questions about how the tweeters’ concerns can be solved.
Thank you to everyone who attended Tarbell’s Dem Debate Watch Party! If you have any suggestions for new member benefits, write to me with your ideas.
We’re 11 days away from 2020! But we still have a long way to go to reach Tarbell’s 2019 fundraising goal. Please donate today, and your contribution will be doubled – bringing us that much closer to our 2020 goals!
Notable Investigations and Solutions
The Doctor-Patient Divide: The New York Times noted a contrast in legislation this week: a bipartisan coalition released a new piece of legislation on surprise hospital bills that garnered support from consumer groups and the White House. But at the same time, Monday’s spending package did not include a single reference to surprise billing, apparently scuttled over concerns that doctors wouldn’t receive adequate pay. As the article argues, this may be the battle that stifles strong public support for universal health care.
While we’re on that note, I want to revisit one of Dr. Feierabend’s columns from last month. In it, he recounts a discussion with another physician from his home state of Tennessee who shares his care for patients, but would vote against a universal health system because it would lower doctors’ pay. Especially in rural regions that struggle to retain physicians, compensation is critical to making sure physicians are comfortable and content, but Dr. Feierabend argues that a universal health care system could still pay physicians fairly, even more than under the current system.
Bad week for Buttigieg: This week, new revelations from Pete Buttigieg’s past and current campaign revealed that he’s not simply a determined Democrat and presidential hopeful from Pence country.
To fight off claims that he’s chasing big-ticket contributors, Buttigieg released a list of his bundlers, or groups of $25,000+ fundraisers who group together for anonymity. Politico later revealed that more than 20 of Buttigieg’s largest fundraisers were left off that public list, which triggered a spar between him and Elizabeth “anti-corruption” Warren during Thursday’s debate.
To top that off, Tarbell Founder Wendell Potter has unpacked how Buttigieg would have worked with McKinsey and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to cut costs at the expense of citizens, based on Potter’s own experience in McKinsey. Potter appeared on The Intercept’s podcast this week to sum up the tweetstorm he’s been channeling all week.
Burning up miners’ salaries: Recent state lawsuits and probes against energy companies seemed to skirt around the tanking coal industry. And according to documents viewed by The Intercept, that’s by design: the investigating agency, Government Accountability Office, received six-figures of payment from a group financed by bankrupt coal company Murray Energy.
Commentary – Defense debt: The US’s involvement in international conflicts has ebbed and flowed, but one thing that hasn’t changed is defense spending growth. William D. Hartung, a leading voice at an international policy think tank, explores the persistent spending – and corporate benefactors – of the US’s bulging defense budget.
Spotlight on Local Reporting
Split on Insulin: Lawmakers in Minnesota agree that life-saving drug insulin has become dangerously inaccessible to citizens, but that’s where agreements end. That divide comes down to the role of drugmakers and whether they’d fund the state’s proposed emergency program for diabetics, or provide free insulin, as they (and Republicans) prefer.
Exelon investigation surges: Exelon, the parent company of Illinois’s largest utility ComEd, is now facing a class action lawsuit for its false and misleading claims to shareholders. The company is under investigation for outrageous lobbying in the Windy City, which has already pushed the CEO out the door and damaged its reputation among customers.