Healthcare Industry Contributions to Presidential Candidates Top $3.7 Million in 2007, Study Says

At New Hampshire Press Conference With Michael Moore, Nurses Say Money Influencing Candidates to Promote Insurance-Based Reform. (Original article.)

MANCHESTER, N.H.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Democratic and Republican candidates have accepted more than $3.7 million in campaign contributions this year from healthcare industry sources, with more than 45% of it going to just two candidates, Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, according to a new report issued Friday.

Overall, healthcare contributions to the 18 currently announced Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates total an aggregate $12.8 million since 1989 – with 29% of that total donated just in the first quarter of 2007 alone.

Clinton topped the recipient list with $868,722, 23% of all the healthcare money donated to candidates this year. Romney was a close second at $833,385, 22% of the total dollars. The other frontrunners followed. Sen. Barack Obama, with $574,268, 15%; Sen. John McCain, $423,751, 11%; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, $408,822, also 11%; and former Sen. John Edwards, $222,950, 6%.

Political donations are just part of the story. Healthcare money also swamps Congress. In federal lobbying, healthcare spending exceeds $2.2 billion the past decade, during which healthcare surpassed all other industry sectors in lobbying expenditures.

“From the campaign trail to Capitol Hill, the healthcare industry has a choke hold on legislation and the debate on healthcare reform,” says Michael Lighty, public policy director for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee whose research arm, the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy, did the study.

CNA/NNOC compiled the research report in concert with the release of Michael Moore’s “SiCKO,” a searing indictment of the healthcare industry.

“The avalanche of healthcare industry cash is corrupting public policy on healthcare,” said Lighty. “It leads to legislation that benefits the healthcare lobbyists – such as the recent vote in the Senate killing a bill to enable the federal government to use its bulk power to garner discount prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients. It also encourages Presidential candidates to promote solutions that expand the reach and wealth of the insurance industry.”

Lighty noted most of the Presidential candidates favor insurance-based reforms, such as requiring everyone to buy insurance, or taxing employers to buy insurance, or enacting more tax credits for buying insurance. “It is no surprise that the virtually none of the candidates who receive this money advocate the elimination of private health insurance.”

In New Hampshire press conference Friday, CNA/NNOC and Moore called on all the candidates to reject healthcare industry contributions, part of a four point pledge that also urges the candidates to support for guaranteed, comprehensive healthcare for life; eliminate the role of private insurers in health coverage; and stronger regulation of the drug industry.

Following the announcement of the pledge, and the first presentation of the CNA/NNOC report, two bus loads of nurses from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Illinois, and California visited the Manchester, NH campaign offices of a number of the candidates to urge them to support the pledge (photos available upon request).

Dating back to 1989, the report, based on a comprehensive analysis of publicly available and custom data sets from the Center for Responsive Politics, shows that Romney is the top recipient of pharmaceutical contributions and money from banks and securities and investment firms which are a prime beneficiary of the rapid growth of Health Savings Accounts and other reform plans that rely on financial institutions. The finance industry ranks third in lobbying expenditures the past decade after healthcare and communications/technology.

Sen. Christopher Dodd, whose home state houses corporate offices for many insurance corporations, is the top beneficiary of insurance and HMO donations. Clinton leads among donations from health professionals and lobbyists.

In releasing the report, said Lighty, CNA/NNOC, hopes to help “lift the veil on the corrosive influence of political money. Nurses are the antidote to that greed and callous denial of care. It is their everyday experiences which are depicted on screen in “SiCKO,” mirrored in the film’s brutal and heartbreaking stories.”

“Nurses around the country are campaigning to change the healthcare system to get the insurance companies out of the way, and will be in front of movie theaters in every corner of our country when ‘SiCKO’ opens nationwide June 29 to encourage the movie audiences to join us,” Lighty said.

California Nurses Association
Charles Idelson, 510-273-2246 or 415-559-8991 (cell)


2 Responses to “Healthcare Industry Contributions to Presidential Candidates Top $3.7 Million in 2007, Study Says”

  1. 1 nancy samelson June 26, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    To: The Professional Fiduciary Association of California
    Ethics Committee

    BETRAYAL is never a pleasant experience, but when you are 87 years old, have the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and your only son has taken all your money, it is felt even more keenly.

    My dear husband Hans went into the hospital and then into a nursing facility a little over two years ago. Because we were devoted to each other, I spent most of my days with him. Our dear friend, Monica Staar, had been invited for supper the night that Hans was taken to the hospital, and she ended up staying on to help take care of mail and bills, housecleaning, grocery shopping, meal preparation, and companionship. She dealt with Hans’ colleagues in the Math Department and also with our elder son, Peter, on the necessary paperwork to keep things running smoothly and free me to be with Hans. I hated to see her scrubbing floors and toilets, but as she told me, anyone can clean a floor, but only I could sit with Hans, read to him, keep him company. She kept me company too, read to me from the newspapers and journals that came in the mail, made sure there were always fresh flowers on the table and in my bedroom, often from her garden or our afternoon walks.

    After Hans died in September 2005, Monica stayed on to help me because I went into a depression over the loss of my love and life companion. Monica and her dog would accompany me on walks; she would go swimming with me, prepare gourmet meals, fix up the garden areas, take me out to the Baylands and museums, encourage me to draw and paint again. I wanted to pay her for her caregiving and housekeeping, but she felt that my son Roger needed to be involved in the decision with me on compensation. He asked her to move in with me permanently in June 2006, and we discussed the obstacles to be overcome: she was responsible for property which her family owned, and my daughter Amy liked to visit me on the weekends and, I felt, have me all to herself. We worked on the arrangement of her leaving before Amy arrived, and returning after Amy was gone. We also called Avenidas, the local senior resource center, to find out what caregivers were paid. The consensus was $25 an hour and, if one worked around the clock $250 a day. This meant that the person had at least 8 hours to sleep, and also some time off. Monica did not take time off; in fact she missed many of her own appointments.

    Beginning January 2006, Monica sent all bills which were not on automatic payment to my son Roger in Corvallis. Roger is an oceanographer and travels around the world quite a bit. He is frequently not at home.

    Roger was advised by the manager at the Stanford Credit Union that having financial power of attorney was not sufficient, that if I died, the power died with me, and he really should be joint on my account there. He was told three times, and still did not act. Finally, Monica drove me over to the credit union and had me sign the card to have Roger put on all my accounts, and then she mailed the card to him with specific instructions. Had she not done this, much of what has happened since could not have occurred.

    page 2

    In July, my daughter Amy was opening my mail and handed Monica a notice from Stanford University Benefits that my health insurance coverage had been cancelled retroactively for failure to pay monthly premiums. This was one of the many letters that Monica had forwarded to Roger at his request, and we both assumed he was taking care of the bills and other financial affairs. Monica had to take care of this, disbursement of Hans’ life insurance (again, after forwarding repeated requests from TIAA-Cref to Roger), my car insurance, and other matters which we had thought Roger had under control.

    Then in September 2006, Roger began asking Monica what her schedule was, because he wanted to talk to her about living with me. (My daughter Amy agreed that it would be a good idea, and that we could arrange the times to suit each of them.) Monica would tell Roger how long she would be there, and wait for his phone calls, so that she left often a day late, waiting for him when he said he would be back from a trip. In fact, Roger would come on weekends when Monica was not at my home, and brought in a notary public and had me sign all sorts of documents. He also removed all the files that Monica had carefully created for all the bills and accounts. Then, once he had gathered to himself all the legal powers he could, he called and announced that he was in charge of my life.

    Monica and I went to see the law firm of Kramer Radin, in fact, our appointment was with Deborah Kramer-Radin, in December 2006 to get help explaining to Roger that Monica needed to be paid for all her help. Deborah spent several hours with us and assured us that she would be happy to talk to Roger on our behalf. When we returned, she announced that Roger was her client. Monica showed her several checks which I had written out to her, since she had quite a few expenses of her own to meet, and asked if she could cash those checks. Kramer-Radin looked at them and said it was Roger’s intention that she (Monica) be paid everything she had been up to that point. So the following day, Monica deposited the checks in the bank. [Foot Note** Monica also asked Kramer-Radin whether Roger had had me declared incompetent; i.e., whether he would challenge my having written the checks. Kramer-Radin replied, “Not yet.” The very next day, Roger had my primary care physician, who barely spent any time with me (five minutes if you’re lucky is the standard at Palo Alto Clinic), Anita Gupta, sign a standardized form swearing she had examined me and found me to be incapable of handling my affairs. I had a neurologist who would have been better suited to making such a determination. Gupta never examined me. And I had already made an appointment with the Encina Practice to obtain a real primary care physician, one who would get to know me and actually examine me. Gupta had been Hans’ doctor as well, and while Hans was still alive, neither one of us thought very much of her, and Roger had said he was not impressed either.] Roger, who had obtained internet access to my checking and savings accounts at the credit union, immediately transferred a large sum of money out of the checking account, so that these checks were returned for “insufficient funds”. Monica had in good faith withdrawn enough cash to pay her own utilities and other expenses, and so her own checking account was terribly overdrawn. Then Roger took all the money out of my accounts. All this occurred without his telling me that he was doing it. It was apparent only on the bank’s statements, which he had also asked be sent to his home address, but which had not been sent there yet.

    page 3

    Then Roger showed up one fine morning in December unannounced at my front door with the Stanford police. Apparently he had told the police that Monica was stealing my money and they were quite anxious to arrest her for elder abuse. Monica called Adult Protective Services and also a lawyer and was advised that the only way to protect me from Roger, if he had obtained my signature on all the documents, was to throw myself on the mercy of the court and ask that a public guardian be appointed. We did this, but Roger persisted, calling and threatening to come down, saying he was bringing a caregiver for me. I told him I didn’t need a new or different caregiver; I couldn’t pay the one I had! I was so afraid that he would show up on New Year’s Day- he was deliberately evasive about his schedule- that I asked Monica if we could leave. We drove around until she ran out of money and then she called the court, asking for help. All the lawyers she had called were on vacation, going on vacation, or too busy, or were friends with Kramer-Radin, so they had a conflict of interest. The court lawyer, Robert Colyer, told Monica to come down, that the judge had appointed a lawyer for me, and I could meet him about 2 o’clock that afternoon. The first thing Jim Efting did was ask Monica to go around the corner so he could talk to me alone. Then he took me into an office and had me sign a request for a restraining order against Roger so that I could safely go home. He took it to the judge and had it signed and they made copies for us so we could stop by the Stanford police station and have them escort us home. A very nice young woman walked through the house and checked all the closets and then announced no one was there, and we could finally relax.

    Roger came to court with a young man from the Kramer-Radin law firm, and I could not understand why my lawyer did not have him thrown out immediately- they were our lawyers first, and we had given them quite a lot of very private information which was about to be used against us. Efting did not do anything he said he would do, and I had serious doubts about how good he was, especially when he came out and told us that Monica had to agree to leave until the next hearing. He never did anything I asked him to, and then gave us two days to pick a conservator- and only three names. The first woman turned out to be a friend of Arden Pierce’s, the woman who had come with Roger and the police at seven in the morning. So I decided against her because it seemed she would always be consulting Arden and Arden would ask Roger what he wanted, and then Roger would still be running my life. The second woman could not meet me on the deadline that Jim had set, so I picked the third woman, whom Jim recommended, and hoped for the best.

    Joyce Anthony turned out to be interested in control, control, CONTROL. She did not ask what I wanted. All sorts of strangers would come to my house and walk around, not introducing themselves, and not even bothering to talk to me. It was very confusing. I began to think they were trying to deliberately confuse me even more, so that I would get to the point where they could take even more control over me.

    Things went from bad to worse. Deborah Salack claimed to be the “court-appointed gerontologist care manager”, and Monica tried to tell her everything about my schedule and likes and needs. Deborah Denny, the court investigator said Salack was not “court-appointed”, but I did not know I could tell these people to leave me alone. They would come without calling, and the “cleaning women” would just sit. They refused to lift a finger to change a light bulb or clean the bathroom. Jeannie Mohammed spent four hours polishing my Revere whistling tea kettle! Things would disappear and I didn’t
    Page 4

    know where they had gone or who had taken them. I had no money. Deborah Salack would buy things I didn’t need (a new telephone) and not the things I DID need- like an replacement answering machine and underwear. She wanted to redo all the lighting with full-spectrum lightbulbs, just before Spring!

    Without the answering machine, I felt isolated. I was accustomed to coming in from swimming or a walk and having a flashing light indicating I had messages from friends or my daughter Amy. I just sat. No one visited, no one called. Monica brought me a bird feeder and a finch sock so I had something to look at out the window. I missed her and all our conversations, meals, outings, and museum visits. Without stimulation, emotional, social, intellectual, I felt I was alone and forgotten. It was depressing. Monica insisted on taking me for haircuts, to keep up my appearance, especially for court, buying me clothes that didn’t have holes in it, and also taking me to my neurologist, who referred me for depression. Joyce Anthony didn’t like Monica “interfering” so she got a restraining order against her. (I am certain my son Roger was behind this, since I had one against him. This did not keep him from following me around campus, walking right next to me and making faces, but not talking to me.) Several times, the police forced their way into my home looking for Monica when she was not even there.

    My lawyer Jim Efting would not get rid of Joyce Anthony. Instead, after I called him on March 22 and said I did NOT want Joyce Anthony to be my permanent conservator, he brought me papers to sign on the 31st saying I wanted her to be permanent! This was because he was working with Roger’s lawyer (MY lawyer), and Roger was now in favor of Joyce Anthony because she was against Monica. He showed us e-mail he had sent to Kramer-Radin stating that Monica was “behind” things.

    Another thing Jim did was write out a list of things I was supposed to tell the judge, writing on the same page that I was supposed to call Outreach to arrange for a ride to court. There was no money in the Outreach account, even though Roger had given Jim a check for $200 to give me. When asked about this, Jim said he didn’t know what to do with the money, even though he had told me he would bring it to me- so he put it in his account. I did not get to court, and so my petition was dismissed, and then Roger took the offensive. (And he was very offensive.) It was extremely upsetting to me to have papers served from the law firm which had been on my side less than a month before.

    Meanwhile, people were cancelling my scheduled doctor’s appointments, and no one bothered to check my groceries or my prescription refills, so Monica would do this, always a little late for the people doing the deliveries, so that my “court-appointed” caregivers could have the opportunity to do it on time. She has a personal relationship with the people at the pharmacy, who are old friends of Hans’ and mine, and also has developed a good working relationship with my local grocer. Monica and I both agree that relationships are more important than rules. And I do not know what my “caregivers” are being paid for.

    I let everyone know that I did not want my money being spent against my dear friend Monica, and I certainly do not want a restraining order against her. She helped me get a list of possible conservators when my lawyer would not do this, and called several so we could meet. I really liked two of the women, but Jim Efting scared them off. He was
    page 5

    spreading rumors on behalf of Roger’s lawyer (who was MY lawyer first) and also lying to me. He told me that Jutta Kiel did not want to be my conservator. When we called Jutta Kiel, she said she had not said that – that she had said we were interviewing others, and if I still liked her at the end, to call her back.

    I decided I needed a different lawyer- one who would listen to me and do what I asked him to. Monica took me to lunch to meet Diane Greenberg, a lawyer who had a friend of mine at Pearce Mitchell as a client. This was recommendation enough. It turned out that she had been recommended earlier, in December, when we were trying to find someone to replace Kramer-Radin. She said she would accept a court appointment. However, when my court-appointed lawyer, Jim Efting, had scared off the other replacement conservators, I had settled on going with an older man, John Rowden Davis. I thought he might be strong enough to stand up to Roger and his lawyer (who was MY lawyer first). And John Royden Davis agreed that the restraining order was unnecessary. I was going to ask for him to be my conservator ONLY to get rid of Joyce Anthony AND the restraining order against Monica. He did not want me to have Diane Greenberg, because he wanted her for HIS lawyer. At lunch, they said that the conservator was very powerful, and more important than the lawyer. But it turns out there are plenty of conservators, and not very many good lawyers! I should not have believed him or trusted him. People who are looking out for themselves first and foremost are not necessarily the best to trust to look out for anyone else. Jutta Kiel and the woman at Care Like a Daughter were compassionate and human, and seemed to share my values for human relationships and aesthetics and wholesome health.

    Based on Diane Greenberg telling Monica that Jim Efting was FINALLY preparing the papers to have Joyce Anthony replaced, (and I should not upset the apple cart), I did NOT send a letter to Deborah Denny asking for Jim to be replaced by Diane Greenberg. This turns out to have been a serious mistake. Greenberg knew that the main point of replacing Joyce Anthony was so that Monica could be back in my life and could help new “caregivers” learn what I needed for comfort and stimulation. The caregivers group that Davis and Greenberg like to use sent a representative to lunch, so there was no misunderstanding about the intentions for replacing Joyce Anthony and restoring Monica’s position as a friend and helper. I also want to finally pay her for her years of service and caregiving.

    Both Diane Greenberg and John Rowden Davis lied to me. I can see now that it isn’t just about control, but it is about money- spending MY money to pay themselves. If they have to take the time to learn about me on their own, a little at a time, they can bill for many more hours than if Monica works with them and tells them what my schedule and routines are- what gives me comfort, what has been missing or not taken care of in the past six months.

    This conservatorship is a racket. The only question both Greenberg and Davis asked was “Is there enough money?” Hans would turn over in his grave if he knew how our son is “taking care of me” as he “promised [his] father”, and if he saw how his careful investments were being drained away by parasites and leeches. I do need a new lawyer after all. And John Rowden Davis is no better than Joyce Anthony: in fact, when he picked me up, he could not take the time for me to locate my pocket book and my house key so I could lock the house- a woman would never have done anything like
    page 6

    that. I think he is old, and his mild manner simply hides the same greed for money and control.

    What can an old woman do? They can all stall (like Jim Efting), knowing time is on their side- I will get older and more tired, my Alzheimer’s will likely get worse, and I will forget what is important to me- they are counting on it! Your code of ethics doesn’t mention integrity as human beings, but you sure have some hungry vultures among you. No compassion, no real interest in the clients, just access to lots and lots of other people’s money- people who do not have the energy to stand up for themselves, who are helpless and vulnerable, and so easy to take advantage of. People who will not be taken seriously or listened to if they do complain, and who will grow older and die before anybody gets around to paying attention. Shame on you all!

    Monica and I have tape recorded all our conversations, and conversations with all individuals mentioned here.

    Nancy Morse Samelson

    35 Pearce Mitchell Place
    Stanford, California 94305


    cc: Probate Court
    San Jose Mercury News
    Sixty Minutes
    Gray Panthers
    Elder Advocates
    State Bar of California
    State Attorney General’s Office

    About the author

    Nancy Samelson is a vibrant woman, a talented painter and observer of humanity- a social psychologist by training who worked with Margaret Mead while she was at Michigan. Nancy and her husband Hans moved to Stanford where he was an anchor in the Math Department. Nancy was active in Sociology and when the Viet Nam War created the general turmoil on campuses across the country, Nancy was involved with protest art and the open campus classes which flourished during these more tolerant times. She later moved to Civil Engineering where she co-authored the first text on the then new OSHA regulations, a manual which is still in use today. It has been translated into Japanese, among other languages, and she receives a small royalty check from the publisher in Japan annually.

    The reason that Nancy filed a petition to have the court appoint someone other than her son Roger as her conservator was because she was afraid of Roger and did not trust him. In large part these feelings were based on his inability to communicate effectively with her and his behavior which greatly upset her, because it was unexpected and, due to the failures in communication, to her, incomprehensible. The hope was that someone better skilled at communicating WITH Nancy could be found, to assist her with normal bills and mail, and to explain to her what her alternatives were in each instance when a decision was required.

    Unfortunately, because son Roger hijacked the attorney which Nancy selected and felt comfortable with, and also removed her access to any funds, she was left with putting herself at the mercy of the court. An attorney was appointed for her, who seemed nice enough, insisted “Nancy is the boss”, and said he had been doing elder law for 27 years. He has turned out to be not only negligent, but also dishonest, colluding with her son’s attorney, and going against his client’s stated wishes.

  2. 2 Kelli January 14, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Mrs. Samuelson has been fortunate in her life, but sadly, has learned what I know to be true when coming closer to the end of life…people ARE vultures and will take advantage of you, especially if you have money, and will do whatever they want with you and it. I found this out when my parents went into nursing homes. One place stole my dad’s TV, but eventually replaced it (only because I had proof of the tv’s existence and they were about to be bought by another company and therefore under intense financial scrutiny). You are treated like animals, left to rot in your own urine, et al, and there is NO dignity in a nursing home where only medicare/medicaid pays the bills. And there is a whole rotten system every step of the way just waiting to take whatever monies they can get their hands on. DISGUSTING AND PREDATORY!
    I hope Mrs. Samuelson is doing all right, and I wish her well. I would like her to know that there ARE nice, decent people out there/and in the health care profession. Caring people who would rather jump in a fire than sell their souls to the devil for a penny. I was not raised to lie, cheat or steal, but to comport myself with integrity and to always do the best job I am capable of doing. I don’t always achieve the latter, but at least I try, sometimes without financial recompense, just because it is the RIGHT thing to do.
    Bless you and those who try to help you. I wish I could do something to help the thousands of patients imprisoned behind the walls of uncaring institutions. Let me know if there is, and I will be praying for you all.

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