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Michael Levin on Academic Medicine and Hospitals in the Campaign to Protect the Medical Industry PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Michael Levin on Academic Medicine and Hospitals in the Campaign to Protect the Medical Industry: Citizen (United) Centered Medicine

Backed by academic medicine
Integrator adviser and columnist Michael Levin read the brief in the August 2014 Integrator Round-up entitled "Hospital group begins campaign promoting its role disease as an economic engine." The subject is an organization of U.S. hospitals and academic health centers, the
Coalition to Protect America's Health Care (CPAH). The organization was created to protect economic life as hospitals know it. Their strategy leads with calling attention to the jobs they create and their economic impact on communities. I questioned whether this strategy is ethical of nominally "healthcare" organizations. 

Levin, the founder of the Health Business Strategies consultancy, dives into CPAH and share details: over $14-million of marketing and lobbying revenues from 2011-2013. He particularly notes the role of academic health centers in this self-protective work.

Levin is a cross-over professional. His business insights are deeply steeped in conventional pharmaceuticals and medical technology, formed through a first career which included a stint as a vice president with Baxter Healthcare. For most of the last decade, Michael has held executive positions with natural products companies including Tyler Encapsulations and Cardinal Nutrition. He has a passion for the development of the integrated health care industry. His writing focused on natural product quality issues, potential cost savings from better integration of natural therapeutics, and efforts to create incentives for individuals to better engage their own health care.


The Economics and Impact of a Healthcare Special Interest Group: A Micro-Study

Michael Levin

Health Business Strategies, Clackamas, OR  97015

The Coalition to Protect America's Healthcare (CPAH) is an interesting example of a special interest group influencing public policy. To better appreciate "how things work", I share these brief comments on CPAH.

Michael Levin
CPAH describes itself as: The Coalition to Protect America's Health Care was created in 2000. It is a broad-based group of hospitals, businesses and national, state and local hospital associations dedicated to educating the public about issues affecting hospitals' financial situation and what this means for patients and their families.

One of their founding members, the American Association of Medical Colleges, offers more targeted insights into the purpose of CPAH. They describe CPAH as: "An organization of hospitals, national, state, regional and metropolitan associations united with the business community behind one goal: to create television, radio and print advertising that seeks to protect and preserve the financial viability of America's hospitals. The AAMC is a founding member."  Hmmmm. 

The IRS defines a 501(c) (4), in part, as "....a social welfare organization......created to promote community welfare for charitable, educational and recreational purposes".  Recreational? Hmmmm. (I suppose one could argue that advertising is a sport.)

While individual donor sources to 501c(4) are generally undiscoverable, the financial reports (form 990) are not hidden. It is interesting to note the financial activity of CPAH in the context of the Affordable Care Act national debate.


Coalition to Protect America's Healthcare - Non-Profit 501c(4)

Note: A 501c4 is defined as "Civic leagues, social welfare organization and local associations of
employees,created to promote common welfare for charitable, educational or recreational purposes"

 Form 990
 2013  2012 2011
 Total Revenue
  $6,016,311  $7,209,125  $1,145,063
 Total Functional Expenses
 $1,193,132  $10,422,968  -$2,941,240
 $4,823,179  -$3,213,843  -$1,796,177
 $5,987,910  $7,175,050  $1,080,000
 Investment Income
 $28,401  $34,075  $65,063
 Professional Fundraising Fees
 $78,000  $0  $30
 Total Assets
 $9,261,630  $3,918,476  $7,131,449
 Total Liabilities
 -$520,845  -$870  $0
 Net Assets
 $8,740,785  $3,917,606  $7,131,449


It is clear that the group spent mightily to promote its stakeholders "public service" messages, drawing down from its savings and finally hiring professional fundraisers in 2013 to drive contributions, which increased 700% from 2011 to 2012, coinciding with the Supreme Court challenge of the constitutionality of the ACAs individual mandate.  This is not meant to imply that the CPAH directly influenced the outcome or materially impacted the national debate; they were but one voice in a chorus of many.

It also appears that their investment in fundraising was quite successful.But that's how things work.

Financial stakeholders use the power of the pocketbook to publicly advance their agenda in an effort to influence desired outcomes. There is nothing illegal about this. It is what it is, always has been and always will be. It's called advertising. Caveat emptor.
   "What I find most interesting are
the academic partners funding this
medical-academic-industrial complex."

-- Michael Levin

Comment from Michael Levin: As John reported, this group should be named "The Coalition to Protect the Medical Industry". What I find most interesting are the academic partners funding this medical-academic-industrial complex. And, as I've long argued, unless and until we realign incentives to economically reward health creation, instead of disease treatment, this broken economic trainwreck will continue to flourish, adding to our national debt and increasing morbidity.
Integrator Comment: These are daunting numbers, particularly with the awareness that the one integrative care 501c4 lobbying organization associated with our fields, the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium, the field's Little Engine That Could, has rarely had more than $100,000 in a given year for all of its operations. What we have had is the chair of the all important U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Harkin's put a multiplier on those puny IHPC dollars.

Harkin is retiring this year. Levin's publication of these data underscores how much all of us who seek a transformation of our medical industry into a system that focuses on health creation should be active in efforts to overturn Citzen's United.
With the so-called Coalition to Protect America's Health Care, the AAMC and hospitals are providing Citizen-Centered Care. Or is it possible that corporate medicine, recognized by Citizen's United as having Constitutionally protect first amendment rights, has simply taken over hospital and academic health marketing and lobbying?

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