Obama Aides Helped Plan Ads to Back Health Bill, GOP Says

By Drew Armstrong – 2012-06-09T04:00:00Z

House Republicans say a drugmaker- funded advertising campaign run by supposedly independent groups was part of an agreement with the Obama administration to help pass the U.S. health-care law in 2010.

Republicans are using e-mails and memos to agitate against the overhaul ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the laws constitutionality, due later this month. The correspondence involved White House aides, drugmaker lobbyists and Democratic strategists as they built support for the law.

The documents, released on May 31 and yesterday, suggest presidential aides helped plan a $150 million advertising campaign paid for by the drug industry. The advertisers were seemingly independent groups created by the lobbyists in consultation with strategists linked to the administration, the memos suggest. The organizations were called Healthy Economy Now and Americans for Stable Quality Care.

The memos show that the White House traded billions of dollars in policy concessions to PhRMA for millions of dollars worth of advertising, said House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio. PhRMA is the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industrys Washington lobby group.

The accusations are baseless and politically driven, wrote Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman, in an e- mail. Republicans, who previously admitted this is not serious and merely a partisan effort to distract the Presidents re- election campaign, are now attempting to recycle an old story that was well covered during the original debate.

The drug industry agreed to $80 billion to $125 billion in taxes, discounts and other concessions to help fund the health laws programs during the run-up to approval in March 2010. They avoided potentially harmful policies, including one that would have allowed importation of cheaper brand-name drugs, an issue PhRMA lobbyists discussed at length with the Administration, according to the memos released last month.

At a news conference yesterday in Washington, Boehner called the groups created by the lobbyists to run the ad campaign a Super PAC paid for by PhRMA, and run by Jim Messina out of the West Wing of the White House.

This is wrong and the administration must be held accountable for their actions, Boehner said.

At the time of the e-mails, Messina was an aide to then- White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. He now manages Obamas re-election campaign. The health-care law was passed without a single Republican vote.

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Obama Aides Helped Plan Ads to Back Health Bill, GOP Says

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