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Conservatives for Patients Rights

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

Conservatives for Patients Rights is a front group organized in 2009 by Richard Scott to fight U.S. president Barack Obama's proposals for health reform. According to the Politico news site, Scott has raised $20 million to fight health care reform.[1]

Public relations and advertising

CRC Public Relations -- the conservative PR firm previously known as Creative Response Concepts -- works with Conservatives for Patients Rights. CRC is the firm "that masterminded the 'Swift boat' attacks against 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry," reported the Washington Post. [2]

Part of the group's anti-government healthcare campaign is television ads that feature "horror stories" of Canadian and British residents who "allegedly suffered long waits for surgeries, couldn't get the drugs they needed, or had to come to the United States for treatment." [2] After the release of the 2007 Michael Moore movie "Sicko," industry groups including Health Care America and America's Health Insurance Plans responded with similar scare tactics. [3] [4]

Creating the appearance of public momentum against health care reform

WhoRunsGov.com, a blog publication of the Washington Post company, reported that Conservatives for Patients Rights (CPR) admits that it has undertaken a concerted effort to get people to turn out to town hall meetings nationally to protest health care reform. A spokesperson for the group, Brian Burgess, confirmed that CPR has been emailing out "town hall alert" flyers, and schedules of town hall meetings, to its mailing list. The flier calls the Public Option (a proposal for a government-sponsored, non-profit health insurance plan) "Patient Enemy #1."[5]

These efforts — combined with CPR’s efforts to enlist Tax Day Tea Party participants,[6] as reported by Talking Points Memo, offer a glimpse into how anti-reform groups are trying to create a sense of public momentum in their favor.[7]

Coordinating opposition to health insurance reform

In October 2009, CNN obtained a memo in which Conservatives for Patients Rights leader Rick Scott urged opponents of reform to "synchronize their strategies" before attacking. Scott said CPR planned to remain focused on defeating the so-called "public option," a publicly-funded health insurance plan that would be affordable. He suggested to the other anti-reform groups that they each choose to focus their fire on "a single specific facet of each plan," like individual and employer mandates, "massive tax increases" or "deep cuts in Medicare."[8]

Background

Maggie Mahar at the Century Foundation's Health Beat blog reports that Scott previously started the for-profit hospital chain in 1987 that later became the $23 billion Columbia/HCA. He was ousted from this post in 1997 after an FBI investigation of Columbia/HCA that led to 14 felony convictions and $1.7 billion in criminal and civil fines for Medicare fraud.[9]

Contact information

Conservatives for Patients' Rights
700 12th street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20005

Phone: 877-330-4CPR
Email: info AT cprights.org
Website: http://www.conservativesforpatientsrights.com/ [Note: This URL no longer links to the organization; it is now defunct (as of mid-August, 2011)]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Jonathan Martin (March 3, 2009). "Group launches health care offensive", Politico.com. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dan Eggen, "Ex-Hospital CEO Battles Reform Effort: Ads Cite Long Waits In Canada and Britain," Washington Post, May 11, 2009.
  3. Video news release, "What Michael Moore Left Out of His Movie: Canadian Patients and Health Care Experts Tell Other Side of Story," Health Care America via MultiVu, June 29, 2007.
  4. Elizabeth Solomont, "Big Pharma Readies Effort To Counter Moore's 'Sicko'," New York Sun, June 20, 2007.
  5. Rick Scott, Conservatives for Patients Rights Town Hall Alert Flyer. 1 page. Undated. Accessed August 14, 2009
  6. Biran Beutler, TPMMuckraker Inside The Tea Partiers Anti-Health Care Organizing Campaign Blog/article. August 3, 2009, accessed August 14, 2009
  7. Greg Sargent, the Plum Line Anti-Reform Group Takes Credit For Helping Gin Up Town Hall Rallies Blog/article. August 4, 2009. Accessed August 14, 2009
  8. Pete Hamby Health care critic advises 'divide and conquer' strategy CNN Political Ticker. October 19, 2009
  9. Maggie Mahar (March 3, 2009). "Who Is Richard Scott -- and Why Is He Saying These Things about Health Care Reform?", Health Beat. 

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