Monday, June 11, 2007

Gingrich 4 Sale?

Looks like folks are onto Huckster Newt. It seems his “think tank,” The Center for Health Transformation, just might be willing to “think up” an idea to benefit your company for the price of $200,000 a year.

From the AP:
Among his ideas is a health system that lets consumers, not health maintenance organizations, choose the best doctors, medical treatments and hospitals. Such a goal would be accomplished with health savings accounts, which are sought by companies that fund Gingrich's think tank. The accounts would encourage people to shop for cheaper care and forgo treatments they do not need.

A second idea, electronic records to keep better track of people's medical care, is a potential boon to technology companies that underwrite the center.

Rarely does Gingrich acknowledge his opinions would benefit the drug makers, insurers and others who each pay the center up to $200,000 annually.

Critics say Gingrich is doing free advertising, not the free thinking he is admired for by conservative supporters. Gingrich aides say his ideas are aimed at helping all people and not a particular company.

"This is a massive financial conflict of interest: taking money from organizations that have a set of views, then using the weight of your name, Newt Gingrich, to advance the views of these organizations," said Sid Wolfe, director of health research for Public Citizen, a liberal-leaning watchdog group.

Ellen Miller, an open-government advocate who runs the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, said: "It's a phony think tank. He's nothing but a corporate shill and everything he says about health care should be regarded with complete skepticism."

Gingrich aides say companies give money because of Gingrich's views, not the other way around.

And that makes him less of a corporate shill how?

Anyway, the article says there are more than 60 companies who are members of Gingrich’s “think tank,” paying $10,000 to $200,000 a year in dues each. The founding members include:

• Drug makers AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline
• Diabetes care leader Novo Nordisk and MedImpact, a pharmacy benefits management company.
• Insurance, health management and health support companies Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, GE Healthcare, Healthways, SHPS, UnitedHealth Group and ValueOptions
• Hospitals and hospital networks Cancer Treatment Centers of America and Sutter Health
• Electronics company Siemens and technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton
• The Gallup polling organization
• General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler.

The Gallup organization?! Holy rigged elections, Batman!

This is important to know as Gingrich passes himself off as some kind of healthcare “expert,” a title the lazy media is increasingly inclined to bestow upon him. As an example of how the Gingrich snake oil can directly impact consumers, look at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The company has hired Gingrich, based on his Center for Health Transformation credentials, to advise them on what to do with a $400 million gift from a benefactor.

This is a story worth watching.