Tuesday, December 22, 2009

CAPTURED! When a non-profit accepts corporate sponsors, agendas change

Too many of our non-profits accept money from Big Pharma and Big Health Insurance corporations to 'sponsor' an activity or a website. It is hard to resist the money for the financially struggling non-profit.

Having once been a trustee of non profit Trust (SCEET) that was supposed to provide low cost health related insurance to local school districts in southern California, I have some insight into what happens to the non-profit as its being captured.

The good intentioned directors of the non profit see that with a bit more financial support they can do so much more to help victims of disease or disability that their organization was formed to help. Besides the company representative offering financial support assures the director that there are no strings attached to the financial offer. the offer is pure charity to help the organization. The rep for the big corporation is such a nice guy. Why he invited me to a sky box in XYZ stadium to watch our local professional sports team. The rep said the sky box was already paid for by his company, why don't I come along to the game? I really like this guy and with no strings attached, how could accepting the money being offered hurt anyone?

The problem is in a short time the extra income becomes crucial to running the non-profit. The directors do not see how they can do all they want to do without this money. When an issue comes up that might make that "nice rep" unhappy or perhaps result in less or no 'sponsorship' the following budget year, it becomes so easy to just go along with what that nice rep wants the board of directors to do. The rep is a lot more real and present than the victims of disease or disability that the board of directors is supposed to represent. It is such an easy slide from accepting a sponsorship to making the easier decision that helps the company to complete capitulation to the wishes of the sponsors.

I wrote about this problem before regarding the Lupus Foundation of America. Read here:

Here is an editorial in the Anderson Indiana, Herald Bulletin by someone who agrees with me on this issue. He is specifically speaking about the seemingly unwholesome relationship between the AARP and one of its main corporate sponsors, United Health Care.


Published December 19, 2009 11:00 pm - The Beatles might have been right, money might not buy you love. But the insurance companies seem to know something else, money buys you the AARP’s betrayal of seniors.

Viewpoint: AARP gets money top promote insurance company

The Beatles might have been right, money might not buy you love. But the insurance companies seem to know something else, money buys you the AARP’s betrayal of seniors.
A few days ago June Lyle, state director for the AARP, commented at a local Triad meeting that AARP was supporting legislation on the health care reform bill that would “allow” seniors under 65 to seek health insurance through the private sector. Those over 65 could keep their Medicare and Medicaid coverage.

In other words, seniors under 65 will be at the mercy of the insurance companies until they reach an age when they can no longer be profitable for the companies.
Am I the only one that sees a problem here? AARP endorses United Health Care for a fee. That’s right. The AARP receives money to endorse an insurance company. The AARP presents itself as an advocate for seniors. Seniors rely on the AARP for information the way some consumers rely on Consumer Reports magazine. The difference, Consumer Reports does not accept money from the companies it reports on, the AARP is receiving money from an insurance company to endorse it.

Making matters worse, their ads would lead you to believe AARP was the insurance company. If AARP is to remain a nonprofit organization it would be to their best interest not to blatantly become involved in this type of conflict of interest. Until then, the AARP is no more credible than any other paid celebrity endorsement.
What insurance company would not like to take the money paid on insurance premiums until you become a major health risk, like someone over 65, and say let Medicare take of them from here on out? How long do you think the Medicare fund would last until it was totally depleted?

The answer seems to lie in not trusting either the government, AARP, or the insurance industry.

If you remember, Medicaid Part D was draining the seniors of their money with exorbitant pricing of medicine. It was not until several large discount stores, grocery stores, and drug stores started selling generic medicine for $4 a prescription that the cost came down. All along, we had been price gouged by the drug companies and the government was totally complacent.

It appears the government decided not to compete with the unregulated health care program (similar to not competing with communication companies, oil companies and food industries). We can only hope the same companies that saved us from outlandish costs of medicine will step forward and do the same for health care.

Public option appears to be dead, and with the health care and HMO industries spending 52.8 million and employing approximately three lobbyists per law maker, it is doubtful they won’t get their money’s worth. With the AARP in the insurance industry’s pocket, they obvious can’t be counted on to defend us.

In the end, maybe only the discount stores will be able to save us.
How does WAL-CARE sound to you?

Darrell E. Baylor, president of United Senior Action, Anderson Chapter, is an Anderson resident

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how uneducated people are. There have ALWAYS been programs for people who can't afford there medicines with pharmaceutical companies. Way before Medicare D. Problem is the people who cant afford the meds either are senior and need assistance or are just plain lazy and don't bother to help themselves!! They can get completely FREE medicines if put ANY effort into it. Ask your doctors!!! WAKE UP!!!