Big Pharma Celebrates Lou Correa with “Innovation” Award!

“Just the two of us, Building castles in the sky, Just the two of us, You and I!”

Whenever I get a mailer from my Congressman Lou Correa that mentions healthcare, or even hear him mention healthcare in a speech, I can’t help but scowl and growl “GRRR” inside.  A decade back I heard his stump speech several times, and he always began with the story of his meeting some poor lady who couldn’t afford health insurance, and supposedly that’s what inspired him to get into politics.  To help poor people like that.

But throughout his career in the state assembly and senate, ALWAYS funded heavily by corporate interests including insurance, hospitals and Big Pharma, he was one of the few dependable Democratic NO votes on any meaningful reform, most notably Sheila Kuehl’s single-payer bill SB 840 which he helped kill three times.

You can give him credit, at least, for never changing:  now inhabiting a safe comfy Congressional easy-chair for as long as he wants, he remains the only OC Democrat to NOT back Medicare-For-All.  (In defiance, as well, of the DPOC’s “we don’t really mean it” resolutions.)  All while representing the lowest-income district in the County, which would benefit the MOST from affordable universal health care.  Sorry Santa Ana and Anaheim, Lou may help a few of you if you have immigration problems, but his loyalty is to his funders.

So, what was THIS in my mailbox?  I knew I was about to growl “GRRRR” again… (click for larger image)

First of all, we see that this mailer was paid for and sent to us, not by Lou himself, but by the “American Life Sciences INNOVATION Council (ALSIC),” because they like Lou so much.  “INNOVATION?”  They use that word, innovation, at least twelve times on this mailer.  Like some talisman, or something that can be wanked.  What do they mean by “innovation,” and how does Lou service that cause so well?

No, they are NOT talking about injecting bleach or ultraviolet light into your body (although I will mention Trump once more, later.)  “Innovation” is here a euphemism for maximum corporate profits for the pharmaceutical industry… because ALLEGEDLY that is what they spend their astronomical profits on – research, development, innovation.  [Spoiler alert – that is NOT what they spend their profits on.]

Next:  How did OUR LOU achieve this “Champion of Healthcare Innovation” award, how did he claw his way to the top of so many corporate-funded Congresscritters, D and R, to make off with such a coveted prize?  Well, relax a little, please.  I’m still trying to determine HOW many politicians have gotten that award this year, but we know that in 2017 NINE Congressmembers, D and R, enjoyed the rare distinction.  Not to be confused with OTHER REAL ACTUAL HEALTHCARE INNOVATION AWARDS, this is just a trophy this industry-shilling nonprofit, ALSIC, hands out to politicians who vote the way they like.

And THIS year, the bill that Big Pharma and their front group ALSIC are desperate to defeat, the one they claim will cockblock their innovativeness, destroy jobs, decimate medicine and Medicare, this “socialist” bill pushed by “radical progressives” which the award-winning Lou Correa has the rare courage to oppose, is H. R. 3, Elijah Cummings’ “Lower Drug Costs Now Act.”

So, give us the lowdown on THAT menace, you say.  At your service:

HR 3, the Lower Drug Costs NOW Act.

From Center For American Progress:

The late Elijah Cummings, lion of the Congress and author of this bill – not generally thought of as a “radical progressive.”

“On April 22, 2021, the chairs of the Ways and Means and the Education and Labor committees reintroduced H.R. 3—the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. A previous version of this legislation passed the House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote in 2019, and its reintroduction is a significant step toward adopting bold reforms to lower prescription drug prices. H.R. 3 would allow the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate lower prices on many of the highest-priced drugs—plus all insulin—directly with pharmaceutical companies. These lower prices would also be available to private insurers and employers, allowing tens of millions additional people to benefit from the negotiation process.

“New analysis from the Center for American Progress (CAP) demonstrates the impact of H.R. 3’s negotiation process on prices for select prescription drugs likely to be eligible for negotiation. People with diabetes could save hundreds of dollars each year on their supply of insulin. For high-priced specialty drugs, the savings on a one-month supply could reach thousands of dollars. And for an extraordinarily expensive drug used to treat multiple sclerosis, Acthar, negotiation could bring down the price for a course of treatment by about $100,000.

“H.R. 3, if passed, would be a historic achievement, making prescription drugs more affordable and accessible. The American public is eager for prescription drug reform, and survey data show that 80 percent of adults believe prescription drugs are unreasonably expensive. Almost 90 percent of adults support allowing the government to negotiate drug prices. This is not surprising: Half of all adults currently take prescription drugs, and 3 in 10 adults haven’t taken their prescriptions as prescribed due to cost—sometimes with lethal consequences. H.R. 3 would provide meaningful and much-needed relief to tens of millions of people…”

You can read more here.  So this is the bill Lou opposes, which got him an award from Big Pharma in their appreciation for his protecting their mega-profits so they can keep INNOVATING.  Only problem is, we’ve known two things for a long time: nearly all drug companies spend MUCH MORE on marketing and advertising than research and development; and much of the most important research and development is done on the taxpayer’s / government’s dime.  [See Jon Oliver clip below.]

Furthermore, bringing down pharma prices is BY NO MEANS a “radical progressive” idea, nor is this bill the work of “radical progressives,” as can be verified by perusing its 76 co-sponsors.  This is a wildly POPULAR idea among the public, and even President Trump attempted it (till having his chain jerked back by “conservatives” in his circle.)

Lastly, the sort of working-class, Latino district that Correa purports to represent would be the greatest beneficiaries of HR 3 (did you see that part above about diabetes?), and Medicare-For-All as well, and if those are defeated by conservative DINOs like Lou, they should by all rights hold it against him at the ballot box.  If they were paying any attention.

One can only hope that one of these years Santa Ana and Anaheim voters will WAKE UP and realize that “Homegrown Leadership” does NOT mean this guy is working for YOU.


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.