For Immediate Release
Monday, July 16, 2012
Zandra Rice Hawkins, (603) 892-2150
Media Memo: Who is Funding Health Reform Opponent Dr. Palmisano's Visits with NH Media Today? (Hint: Billionaire Brothers)
CONCORD, NH - Dr. Donald Palmisano is the head of the Coalition to Protect Patients' Rights, an anti-health care reform organization managed by the right-wing lobbying firm DCI Group. Selling himself as a spokesperson for the coalition and the former president of the American Medical Association, what the good doctor won't say is who is funding his trip or how his own views differ from the official position of the AMA.
According to SourceWatch.org1:
"The Coalition to Protect Patients' Rights (CPPR) is an anti-health reform group that claims to be a "nonpartisan, grassroots coalition of patients, healthcare professionals, advocacy groups, and engaged citizens who are concerned about the current healthcare debate going on in Washington." CPPR is managed by the Republican lobbying firm DCI Group, a grassroots consulting firm that has previously been used by Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds to help form fake "grassroots" smokers' rights groups to help defeat smoking bans. DCI has worked for health insurance companies in the past: In 2002, the American Prospect reported that DCI had been hired by a group called the Health Benefits Coalition, a trade association of for-profit health maintenance organizations (HMOs) who were trying to "thwart congressional action on the patients' bill of rights."
In July 2009, Think Progress reported that Dr. Palmisano was inappropriately using his former position with the American Medical Association to attack health reform efforts:
"Although the American Medical Association has endorsed the House health reform bill with a public option, Palmisano has been using his title as a former AMA president to smear reform." 2
Just a few weeks ago the American Medical Association continued its support of the law by hailing the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act as a victory:
"Supporters of the ACA, including the American Medical Association, applauded the court's ruling. The AMA "has long supported health insurance coverage for all, and we are pleased that this decision means millions of Americans can look forward to the coverage they need to get healthy and stay healthy," AMA President Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, said in a statement. "The AMA remains committed to working on behalf of America's physicians and patients to ensure the law continues to be implemented in ways that support and incentivize better health outcomes and improve the nation's health care system." 3
A feature article in a Florida newspaper, titled "Secrecy Marks Center Bankrolling Conservative Attack on Democrats" drew connections between Palmisano's group and Charles and David H. Koch, conservative billionaire brothers known for funding corporate-benefitting Astroturf campaigns. According to the reporters, the Koch brothers' Center to Protect Patient Rights4:
" ... gave more than $2 million to the similarly named Coalition to Protect Patients' Rights, a Virginia-based nonprofit formed in spring 2009 ... The center provided 80 percent of the coalition's budget; nearly all went to DCI and Direct Response for consulting and voter contact. DCI Group spokesman Craig Stevens said the firm did not set up the center or know where the coalition got its money. New Orleans surgeon Donald Palmisano, former president of the American Medical Association and the public face of the coalition, also said he did not know the source of funding. "I'm just the spokesperson," Palmisano said."
Granite State Progress issued the following statement from Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:
"Dr. Palmisano should be honest about who is funding his opposition to providing families and small businesses with free preventive care and protecting them from insurance company abuses. The more people learn about the benefits of the health law, the more they like it. Palmisano is part of a calculated Astroturf campaign to miseducate people about the health law because they want to undermine public support. It's dirty politics and Palmisano should be honest about who he is and who he really represents."
1 SourceWatch.org, accessed 7/12/12, http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Coalition_to_Protect_Patients...
2 ThinkProgress, 7/28/09
3 American Medical News, 6/28/12, http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/06/25/gvse0628.htm
4 Secrecy Marks Center Bankrolling Conservative Attack on Democrats, 5/29/12, http://www.theledger.com/article/20120529/NEWS/120529273?p=1&tc=pg