Accountable.US last week: “Judge Amy Coney Barrett Puts Big Pharma, Insurance Industry Ahead of Patients and Families” 

In 2018 Judge Barrett ruled for a major drug company that was credibly accused of gravely harming a patient

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, as the Senate Judiciary Committee continues its hearing on Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Accountable.US released new research showing that the drug industry’s main lobbying group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), has given over $3 million to conservative advocacy groups that are now leading the charge to jam the nominee through the Senate. 

“It shouldn’t surprise anyone that drug industry money is powering extreme conservative groups doing everything they can to help Trump and McConnell jam Judge Barrett onto the Supreme Court before voters have a chance to weigh in,” said Kyle Herrig, president of government watchdog Accountable.US. “PhRMA knows what we know: Judge Barrett would be one more vote on the Supreme Court putting corporations and special interest groups like Big Pharma ahead of patients and families. And her clear opposition to the ACA would be a huge win for the drug industry that would get to increase their profits even more at the expense of patients and taxpayers.”

Last week Accountable.US released an analysis of hundreds of cases on which Amy Coney Barrett weighed in as a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In line with previously released findings showing her siding with corporations 76% of the time in precedent-setting appellate cases, the watchdog’s expanded findings show Barrett’s proclivity for siding against consumers, workers, and immigrants while siding with policing interests and defendants in discrimination cases.

Background on PhRMA-backed groups flooding airwaves for Barrett

America First Policies

America First Policies Pledged To Spend At Least $5 Million Advocating For Barrett’s Nomination. “America First Policies, which contributes millions to top pro-Trump super PAC America First Action, is spending over $5 million to support Barrett’s nomination. The group’s president told the New York Times that they will spend more if necessary. In the group’s first television ad, which aired right before Tuesday’s presidential debate, Barrett’s colleagues at Notre Dame Law School praise her teaching, scholarship and character.” [OpenSecrets, 10/2/20]

PhRMA Gave At Least $2.5 Million To America First Policies. “The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) gave millions in grants to pro-GOP “dark money” groups last year, according to the most recent annual tax filings reviewed by the Center for Responsive Politics Friday. Among the largest grants are $2.5 million to America First Policies — a nonprofit dedicated to promoting President Donald Trump’s agenda — and $1.5 million to the American Action Network, which gave $22 million to the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund this election cycle. Both groups spent millions on ads in support of Trump’s tax cuts.” [OpenSecrets, 11/16/18]

Americans For Prosperity

Americans For Prosperity Spent More Than $1M On Ads, Advocacy Promoting Barrett’s Nomination. “The Charles Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity super PAC released pro-Barrett ads in 10 states. It’s spending over $1 million to place the ad and has spent $20 million total this election. Since Barrett’s nomination on Saturday, Americans for Prosperity has already poured thousands of dollars into an online ad campaign on Facebook. The super PAC has also sent out 100,000 letters and calls to senators.” [OpenSecrets, 10/2/20]

PhRMA Gave At Least $375K To Americans For Prosperity. According to Open Secrets, “American Conservative Union ($150,000) and Charles Koch’s Americans for Prosperity ($225,000) were also among conservative dark money nonprofits to receive significant funds from the largest pharmaceutical trade group.” According to Kaiser Health News, “PhRMA’s 2016 dark-money contributions included $150,000 to Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group associated with billionaires Charles and David Koch.” [OpenSecrets, 11/16/18; Kaiser Health News, 7/30/18]

Heritage Foundation

Heritage Action Organized Phone Banks To Urge Support For Barrett’s Nomination. “Heritage Action is organizing a phone bank for its activists to call senators to urge them to vote to confirm Barrett, while Concerned Women for America is embarking on the second leg of a multi-state bus tour to boost support for her nomination.” [CBS News, 10/11/20]

Heritage Action Hosted Weekly Strategy Calls With Activists, Deployed Staff In NC, PA And WI To Urge Votes For Barrett. “Heritage Action for America, which is affiliated with the conservative think-tank the Heritage Foundation, is working with is activists nationwide, including hosting weekly strategy calls with about 10,000 activists, the group’s executive director Jessica Anderson said. On Monday Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, will join the call to break down the first day of Judiciary Committee hearings on Barrett. Heritage Action also is on the ground in Iowa, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to both encourage those states’ senators to vote for Barrett but also to try to turn the Supreme Court issue into voter turnout in November.” [FOX News, 10/7/20]

PhRMA Gave At Least $200K To Heritage Foundation & Heritage Action. In 2018, PhRMA gave $37,500 each to the Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action. In 2012, PhRMA gave $50,000 to Heritage Foundation and $75,000 to Heritage Action. [Form 990 – PhRMA, 2018; Form 990 – PhRMA, 2012]

FreedomWorks

FreedomWorks Pledged At Least $1.5 Million For Campaign Advocating Barrett’s Nomination, Including Digital Ads, Text Program, Door Knocking. “FreedomWorks is planning to spend a combined $1.5 million on its Supreme Court campaign, which includes a new round of digital ads that launched on Monday that target conservative voters with a message in support of filling the seat as soon as possible. The advertisements are running in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Montana currently and will soon expand to Florida and Arizona. They supplement the limited-government group’s text message and door-knocking programs and the training sessions that FreedomWorks plans to hold in October.” [McClatchy, 9/30/20]

PhRMA Gave At Least $100K To FreedomWorks. “Among other conservative groups PhRMA gave to last year are Consumer Action for a Strong Economy ($170,000), FreedomWorks ($100,000), Taxpayers Protection Alliance ($65,000), Institute for Policy Innovation ($35,000) and the Competitive Enterprise Institute ($25,000).” [OpenSecrets, 11/15/19]

Background: Judge Amy Coney Barrett is good for drug and insurance companies, bad for patients

Judge Barrett Ruled In Favor Of A Major Pharma Company Over A Woman Who Was Forced To Get A Hysterectomy Following A Faulty IUD. A woman had a Teva IUD implanted in 2007, and sought to have it removed in 2013. During the procedure it became clear that at some point a piece had broken off and was lodged in the woman’s uterus, necessitating a hysterectomy. The woman was suing Teva under a product liability claim. Barrett wrote the opinion affirming the District court’s decision to dismiss the case, the outcome sought by Teva, based on lack of expert testimony. [Accountable.us report, 9/29/20]

  • Cheryl Dalton Sued Teva After Part Of Her IUD, Either Before Or During Removal, Became Lodged In Her Uterus And Required A Hysterectomy For Full Removal. “In 2007, Dalton’s doctor implanted a ParaGard Intrauterine Device (‘IUD’) in her uterus. An IUD is a form of long-term birth control, and the one Dalton used is manufactured, marketed, and distributed by a group of corporate affiliates whom we will collectively call ‘Teva.’ It is not clear what role each of those corporate affiliates plays in relation to this IUD, but this appeal does not require us to sort that out. Dalton became dissatisfied with the IUD in 2013 and asked her doctor to remove it. The doctor did so by grasping the IUD’s strings with a ring forcep and pulling the IUD down. The procedure, however, removed only part of the IUD. A piece had broken off either before or during the removal, and that piece was now lodged in her uterus. Dalton’s doctor advised her that removing the remaining portion of the IUD would require a hysterectomy.” [United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, No. 17-1990, Cheryl Dalton v. Teva North America, et al., No. 17-1990, 6/4/18]
     
  • Dalton Did Not Provide Expert Testimony In The Case, Arguing The “Causation Issue Was So Straightforward That Expert Testimony Was Unnecessary.” “Under the case-management plan submitted by the parties and adopted by the district court, Dalton had until November 18th to disclose any expert witness and serve the expert witness report required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2). When Dalton made no expert disclosures, Teva moved for summary judgment. It argued that Indiana law requires expert testimony to show causation in products liability actions, and Dalton’s failure to procure any meant that she could not prove an essential element of her claims. Dalton responded that the causation issue was so straightforward that expert testimony was unnecessary.” [United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, No. 17-1990, Cheryl Dalton v. Teva North America, et al., No. 17-1990, 6/4/18]
     
  • Barrett Wrote The Majority Opinion Which Held A Woman Needed To Provide Expert Testimony In Her Suit Against The Pharmaceutical Company For A Faulty IUD. [United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, No. 17-1990, Cheryl Dalton v. Teva North America, et al., No. 17-1990, 6/4/18]

Judge Barrett has criticized both major rulings that upheld the ACA: NFIB v. Sebelius (2012) and King v. Burwell (2015). Of the 2012 decision, she wrote: “Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.” She went on to suggest that Justice Scalia’s view in dissent, “that the entire ACA should have been thrown out, was the correct approach according to the “statutory textualism to which most originalists subscribe.” In 2015, she praised the dissent in King v. Burwell, saying it had “the better of the legal argument.” [Demand Justice fact sheet, accessed 10/8/20]

Judge Barrett overturning the ACA would increase prescription drug costs for seniors and families. If the ACA is struck down the Medicare “donut” hole would be reopened and seniors would have to pay more for prescription drugs. And requirements that insurance companies cover prescription drugs and maternity care would end. [Protect Our Care fact sheet, accessed 10/8/20]

Judge Barrett overturning the ACA would mean 138 million Americans could be on the hook for preventive care currently covered by insurance companies, including vaccinations. Because of the ACA, health plans must cover preventive services — like flu shots, cancer screenings, contraception, and mammograms – at no cost to consumers. This includes nearly 138 million Americans, most of whom have employer coverage. [Protect Our Care fact sheet, accessed 10/8/20]

Judge Barrett overturning the ACA would eliminate protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, including COVID-19. Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies routinely denied people coverage because of a pre-existing condition or canceled coverage when a person got sick. If the ACA is overturned,  insurance companies could have the license to do this again. [Protect Our Care fact sheet, accessed 10/8/20]

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