I recently came across an ad from the Alliance for Patient Access honoring U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin with its “2020 Champion of Patient Access” award.
Since I spent 33 years in health care and dealt with patient access issues, I became curious about the group — its make-up and purpose — to understand what compelled them to consider Congressman Zeldin a “champion” of patient access. After all, Congressman Zeldin has cast votes in Congress opposing laws addressing patient access, such as those extending the time a child can stay on parent’s health insurance, expanding community health clinics, improving language services for those patients with limited English proficiency, requiring insurers to cover those with pre-existing conditions, and elimination of lifetime limits on coverage.
The Alliance for Patient Access, as reported by the health website Health News Review.org, is “a front group established solely do to the bidding” of the pharmaceutical business.
The Alliance for Patient Access is operated by a public affairs firm, Woodberry Associates LLC, which was created by the former chair of the Iowa Republican Party, Brian Kennedy. Most of the funding for the AfPA comes from the pharmaceutical industry.
AfPA is cynically co-opting the commitment to improve patient access to disguise efforts to maintain pharmaceutical companies’ huge profits at patient expense, and in the process elevates Congressman Zeldin to an undeserving status.
Meanwhile, all congressional efforts to mandate that the federal government negotiate with pharmaceutical companies on drug prices, as is already done in the private sector, are routinely defeated by just these kind of groups.
Not surprisingly, Congressman Zeldin accepted campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies during his last congressional race.
Let’s vote this November for real patient access.
Mr. Anthony is the former chair of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee — Ed.
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