Powerful Corporate Interests Used the American Legislative Exchange Council to Undermine the Affordable Care Act

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  • Dale Eisman

Powerful Corporate Interests Used the American Legislative Exchange Council to Undermine the Affordable Care Act

MEMO TO: Interested reporters and editors

FROM: Mary Boyle

For the past three years, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its corporate backers have engineered a sophisticated and coordinated campaign to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in state houses across the country. Not surprisingly, the corporations behind ALEC include the health care industry and powerful pharmaceutical interests. Notable corporate members include, Wellpoint, Pfizer, and GlaxoSmithKline, and the industry’s trade association, PhARMA.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the ALEC Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act[1], a model bill ALEC boasts has been introduced in 44 states since 2009, has helped drive state-based legislative challenges to the ACA.[2] A December 2010 statement from Christie Herrera, ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force Director, stated: “ALEC’s Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act is spreading throughout the country and giving the states the leverage they need to bring about challenges to ObamaCare.”[3]

ALEC is also involved in state and national legal challenges to the ACA, including cases being argued this week in the United States Supreme Court. ALEC’s brief in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals case,[4] State of Florida and National Federation of Independent Business v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was cited in the majority opinion that found aspects of the ACA unconstitutional[5]. This case is now pending before the Supreme Court, where ALEC has also filed an amicus brief.[6] While ALEC describes its filings as “submitted on behalf of its legislators,” it omits mention that its funding is derived almost entirely from private corporations and foundations, including a large section of the private health care industry.

At ALEC “task force meetings,” corporate representatives sit alongside legislators, introducing and voting on ALEC model bills. The Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act was passed by ALEC’s Health and Human Services task force in December 2008. Documents reviewed by Common Cause indicate the task force included pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Bayer, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson, along with PhRMA, the industry’s trade association; also included were health insurance providers WellPoint, United Health Group, CVS Caremark and Amerigroup, plus non-health related organizations including Reynolds American Inc., Wal-Mart and the Koch brothers-sponsored Heartland Institute.

On its website, ALEC celebrates its success in challenging the ACA in state houses and the courts.[7] But its mischaracterization of the drive as coming from state legislators alone is disingenuous and deserves attention.

Here is a table of states where the ALEC Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act has been introduced, where it has passed, and noting where the bill sponsor is known to be a member of ALEC.

[1] http://www.alecexposed.org/w/images/3/3b/5U2-FREEDOM_OF_CHOICE_IN_HEALTH_CARE_ACT_Exposed.pdf

[2] http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/state-laws-and-actions-challenging-aca.aspx

[3] http://www.alec.org/2010/12/another-step-toward-victory-for-americans-and-freedom-of-choice-in-health-care/

[4] http://www.alec.org/wp-content/uploads/nps2FE.pdf

[5] http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/201111021.pdf

[6] http://www.alec.org/SCOTUS-brief

[7] http://www.alec.org/category/press-releases/page/4/