COLUMBUS, Ohio–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The big drug companies against lower drug prices illegally funneled and
hid more than $400,000 in checks to a bevy of hired-gun so-called
“independent experts” who used their public positions of trust to attack
Issue 2, according to campaign finance reports that the drug industry
was forced to finally make public last week.
“These so-called ‘independent experts’ like former Medicaid directors
John McCarthy, Mary Corcoran and Barbara Edwards were simply hired guns
for the drug companies, and it is sad that they used their former public
trust positions to purposely mislead Ohio voters. In fact, it’s criminal
that Ohio voters did not know this sooner,” said Yes on Issue 2 Campaign
Manager Rick Taylor. “In addition, we now know late in the campaign that
Greg Browning, former Budget and Management director, withheld
information about how much he was truly being paid. These four
propagandists used the revolving door to cash in on their former
positions of trust and traveled up and down the state singing their
fraudulent story to newspaper editors and reporters and to anyone else
who would listen.”
Taylor said the drug companies intentionally – and illegally – withheld
information about the large payments they were making to Corcoran and
Edwards’ firms (respectively, Vorys Health Care Advisors, LLC and Health
Management Associates) until last week. Vorys was paid $236,699.80,
Health Management $95,940. McCarthy’s lobbying firm, Upshur Street
Consulting, has been paid $96,000 to date, and Browning’s firm, Capital
Partners, was paid $20,000 before the drug companies ever took the legal
steps necessary to form a PAC to run a campaign. Browning told a
newspaper he was being paid $2,500 a month and never mentioned the hefty
earlier payment of $20,000.
“Most of the payments to Vorys and Health Management were made well
before July 31 when the drug industry first reported their expenditures
– but none of these payments were divulged at that time [in the July 31
report] to Ohio voters,” said Taylor. “The reason for this illegal delay
was that the drug companies didn’t want voters and the media to know
that these so-called experts were paid handsomely. That information
would have instantly called into question the credibility of their
Attorneys for the Yes on Issue 2 campaign Thursday got the green light
from the Ohio Elections Commission to continue pressing forward with
their complaint that the drug industry violated the state’s campaign
disclosure laws in an effort to keep Ohio voters in the dark about who
was exactly funding the No on Issue 2 campaign. Even now, what companies
or individuals have contributed to the No campaign has not been
disclosed and millions of dollars in spending cannot be truly tracked.
“The big drug companies are spending $62 million and counting to run the
darkest, dirtiest and most expensive campaign in Ohio election
history,” said Yes on Issue 2 Spokesman Dennis Willard.
“McCarthy, Corcoran and Edwards – former political appointees who held
top posts in the Ohio Medicaid program – were behind the writing of the
Vorys report. That report, dressed up to look like an academic study,
was actually just a political hatchet job. Browning told newspapers our
math doesn’t work, but refused to elaborate because political hacks
don’t show their homework,” said Taylor.
“Their most bogus argument – and one that was sometimes swallowed hook,
line and sinker by news outlets – was that Issue 2 was confusing and
unworkable,” said Taylor.
In fact, Taylor points out, the plain language of Issue 2 states that
the measure adopts the very same drug pricing system that has been
successfully used by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the
past 25 years to reduce the price of the drugs purchased by the VA and
saved U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars.
“The VA has enjoyed a huge success by simply instructing the drug
companies that if they want to sell their drugs to the 8 million
veterans in the VA’s health program they need to give the VA a discount
of 24 percent off what they charge their other customers,”
said Taylor. “And guess what? The drug companies are willing to provide
that discount because the VA is a big customer. They want to do business
with a customer that big. They’ll want to do the same when Issue 2
passes. They’ll want to keep Ohio as a customer so they’ll play ball.”
Issue 2 will work to save Ohio taxpayers at
least $400 million a year.
“That’s money that – for example – could be used to help fund programs
to deal with Ohio’s opioid epidemic that has been created by some of the
same drug companies that are funding the No on Issue 2 campaign,” said
Taylor. “Or it could pay for more teachers, fire and police officers –
or for better benefits for those public servants. Or the savings could
be passed on to Ohio taxpayers as a tax cut.”
Background on Ohio Ballot Issue 2
The Yes on Issue 2 campaign is a broad-based, bi-partisan coalition.
More than 200,000 Ohio voters signed petitions to put an amendment on
the ballot in November that will lower drug prices for over 4 million
Ohioans, including 164,000 children, save taxpayers $400 million
annually, reduce healthcare costs for everyone and teach greedy drug
companies and their CEOs a lesson.
Paid for by Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices