“Now We Will Have Yet Another Senator Whose Priorities Lie with Big Insurance and Drug Companies,” says Brad Woodhouse

Washington, D.C. – Following the announcement that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey will name former Senator and current Big Pharma lobbyist Jon Kyl to fill the remainder of Sen. John McCain’s term, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, released the following statement:

“By naming a Big Pharma lobbyist who repeatedly voted against the Affordable Care Act and has continued to call for its repeal to serve the remainder of Sen. McCain’s term, Gov. Ducey has assured we will have yet another Senator whose priorities lie with insurance and drug companies, not the health and wellbeing of the American people.”

BACKGROUND:

Jon Kyl Infamously Opposed Requirements That Health Plans Cover Essential Benefits Like Maternity Care And Hospitalization — Saying “I Don’t Need Maternity Care.”

Jon Kyl Proposed An Amendment That Would Have Allowed Insurance Companies To Sell Plans Not Required To Cover Certain Benefits, Such As Prescription Drug Coverage, Hospitalization, And Maternity Care. “By a vote of 14 to 9, the committee rejected an amendment by Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, that would have prohibited the federal government from defining the specific health benefits that insurers must offer. The government would prescribe a minimum package of benefits under all health bills pending in Congress.” [New York Times, 9/26/09]

Jon Kyl: “I Don’t Need Maternity Care.” “Mr. Kyl said that federal benefit mandates would increase the cost of insurance. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, said such requirements were needed because many insurance policies did not cover important services like maternity care. Mr. Kyl insisted, ‘I don’t need maternity care.’ But Ms. Stabenow said, ‘Your mom probably did.’” [New York Times, 9/26/09]

The Affordable Care Act made comprehensive coverage more available by requiring insurance companies to include “essential health benefits” in their plans, such as maternity care, hospitalization, substance abuse care and prescription drug coverage. Before the ACA, people had to pay extra for separate coverage for these benefits. For example, in 2013, 75 percent of non-group plans did not cover maternity care, 45 percent did not cover substance abuse disorder services, and 38 percent did not cover mental health services. Six percent did not even cover generic drugs. If Jon Kyl had his way, insurance companies would once again be able to refuse coverage for these key health services.

Kyl Strongly Opposed The Affordable Care Act And Called For Its Repeal

HEADLINE:  “Kyl: Health Bill A ‘Stunning Assault On Liberty.’” [The Hill, 9/22/09]

Following The Supreme Court’s Decision Finding The Affordable Care Act Constitutional, Kyl Called On The American People To “Overturn The Law By The Choices They Make In November’s Election.” “Because the Supreme Court did not strike down the most onerous provisions, it appears that the American people themselves will have to overturn the law by the choices they make in November’s election.” [Arizona Daily Star, 6/29/12]

Without the ACA, what would disappear?

    • Protections for 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, if they buy coverage on their own
    • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs
    • Allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26
    • Ban on annual and lifetime limits
    • Ban on insurance discrimination against women
    • Limit on out-of-pocket costs
    • Medicaid expansion currently covering 15 million people
    • Rules to hold insurance companies accountable
    • Small business tax credits
    • Marketplace tax credits and coverage for up to 8.7 million people nationally, including 121,000 Arizonans.

Jon Kyl Is A Major Pharmaceutical Lobbyist

PhRMA Has Paid Jon Kyl’s Lobbying Firm, Covington & Burling, More Than Any Other Lobby Shop. “Since 1998, pharmaceutical companies have paid Covington & Burling roughly $19 million to lobby on their behalf, making the industry Covington & Burling’s second-largest customer, according to a Tarbell analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Pharmaceutical companies have paid the firm more than oil and gas, finance and insurance companies combined. And since Kyl arrived, the pharmaceutical industry has accounted for a greater share of Covington & Burling’s lobbying, Tarbell’s analysis shows. In the past three years, PhRMA itself has paid Covington & Burling nearly $3 million — more than it has paid any other lobby shop.” [Tarbell, 11/14/17]

Major pharmaceutical companies have reaped benefits from Republican policy. Here’s how:

Pharmaceutical Companies Have The Highest Profits In The Health Industry. With earnings from only 85 of 118 health care companies announced, profit is already higher for Q2 than it has been for any quarter in the past year. So far, health companies have announced $47 billion in global profit, with pharmaceutical companies making the highest profit margins. Why the sudden growth? In large part, because of Republican corporate tax breaks.

Republican Tax Cut Fueling Pharmaceutical Profits. As Axios reports: “But the larger earnings also stemmed from Republicans’ massive cut in corporate taxes. The income tax expense for drug giant AbbVie, for example, was 93% lower in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period last year.”

At The Same Time, Pharmaceutical Companies Also Reaping Profits By Charging Higher Prices. Between February 1st and July 15th, drug companies raised prices on 255 drugs. As Bloomberg notes, “For all..categories of drugs, list prices rose far faster than inflation. Prices for 10 commonly used diabetes drugs rose 25.6 percent, on average, while average prices for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune treatments rose 40.1 percent.” To learn more the high costs of drug prices, check out a handy explainer video from the Center for American Progress.