Staffers for Top Democrats Reportedly Attended 'Luxury' Retreat Hosted by Lobbyists Fighting Medicare for All
As nurses, doctors, and ordinary Americans ramped up their nationwide effort to build support for Medicare for All at the grassroots level and in Congress, staffers for some of America’s top Democratic lawmakers reportedly attended a “luxury” retreat hosted by corporate lobbyists working to undermine the growing push for single-payer.
According to The Intercept‘s Lee Fang, who first reported on the swanky gathering on Saturday, “around four dozen senior congressional staffers decamped for a weekend of relaxation and discussion at Salamander Resort & Spa” on April 5-7 in Middleburg, Virginia.
“The industry is the root cause of our healthcare crisis.”
—Wendell Potter, Business Initiative for Health Policy
Hosted by the group Center Forward—whose board, Fang noted, “is made up almost entirely of registered corporate lobbyists”—the retreat was attended by the chiefs of staff for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), as well as many other staffers for centrist Democrats and Republicans.
Wendell Potter, an insurance industry executive-turned-whistleblower, told The Intercept that any “congressional staffer serious about finding solutions wouldn’t touch that retreat with a 10-foot pole.”
The gathering, Fang reported, “featured a lecture from industry lobbyists leading the charge on undermining progressive healthcare proposals. Center Forward was originally known as the Blue Dog Research Forum, a think tank affiliated with the conservative Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats; the coalition has pressed the caucus to oppose social welfare spending, taxes on the wealthy, and regulations on business.”
“Center Forward’s big idea on Medicare Part D, for instance, is to maintain lobbyist-authored provisions of the law that bar the government from bargaining for lower prices for medicine,” wrote Fang. “Such restrictions cost taxpayers and patients as much as $73 billion a year while boosting the profits of drugmakers.”
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