I’ve long been a critic of Allyson Schwartz and was quite happy that she had her ass handed to her in the PA gubernatorial primary last year. Not that I was entirely opposed to her candidacy: she had vacated her seat in Congress to run, which meant that whatever the result, it was going to be a win. As little as I care for her, she would have been light-years better than Corbett and would no longer be able to hurt ALL of America with her bad votes.
My problems with Schwartz are well known. For example, despite her efforts to present herself as a progressive, she was actually the head of Third Way, a coalition of corporate-friendly, Republican-lite Democrats. Think the Blue Dogs or the DLC.
In a move that could only be called “dunderheaded”, in the thick of the PA election, Schwartz voted to cut food stamps (aka SNAP) by more than $8 billion dollars. For 175,000 low- and moderate-income Pennsylvanians, that was $65 cut from their monthly grocery budget. Tom Corbett’s approach to food stamps was stingy enough (my food stamp benefits amount to a little more than $6.00/day, but even THAT coal-hearted drunk saw Schwartz’s vote for the clunker it was, and restored the funding she’d voted against.
But where Schwartz has earned her most angry critics is in the area of health care. Yeah, yeah: we all saw Schwartz flying her ACA freak flag during the campaign, but the truth has always been a lot more complicated. She was prepared to vote against cost controls that would have lowered Medicare costs (although she finally caved). She also signed on to repeal the medical device tax. And she introduced legislation that would have increased health care costs for consumers while giving her husband a tasty pay-raise.
So it was not surprising to learn that Schwartz has joined the “better Medicare Alliance as CEO and President. What do they do?
The Better Medicare Alliance’s raison d’etre is to widen the federal spigot of taxpayer dollars already gushing into the bank accounts of insurance companies that operate Medicare Advantage plans, those privately run alternatives to traditional Medicare.,,
Even though the Better Medicare Alliance lists several nonprofit organizations as allies on its website (and gives them equal billing to Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealth Group), I recognized many of them — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation and the Healthcare Leadership Council — as groups ever ready to aid and abet the insurance industry.
As an industry executive, I worked with every one of them during the various campaigns we waged whenever a proposed law or regulation surfaced somewhere that might have hurt profits. Know this, though: while those organizations were willing to lend their names to give our front groups the appearance of being genuine coalitions, they expected us to kick in most if not all of the money to cover the front groups’ expenses.
So how can I be so sure the Better Medicare Alliance is a front group, aside from the mention of the usual suspects as allies? There are these other tell-tale signs: no listing of a physical address or phone number on its website; no mention of employees other than Schwartz; no board of directors (I wanted to know who actually hired Schwartz and who she answers to); no apparent way to reach anyone there other than through a generic email address.
So yes, Allyson was exactly what I said she was.