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Press Release
March 22, 2011

Walker’s ($)1.3 Million Reasons for Funneling Seniors Out of SeniorCare

Walker, Republican Governors Association Have Received $1.3 Million in Contributions From State's Medicare Part D Providers; Walker Scheme a $100 Million Windfall for Providers

MADISON, Wis. — An analysis by One Wisconsin Now shows that companies which currently administer Medicare Part D prescription drug plans in Wisconsin have donated in last several years $1.3 million to the campaigns of Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican Governors Association, which spent $5 million to elect Walker in 2010. Actions by Gov. Walker which threaten SeniorCare could hand $100 million to companies administering the more costly federal Medicare Part D program in Wisconsin.

“Seniors across Wisconsin are asking why Gov. Walker wants to ‘dismantle’ SeniorCare and raise their prescription drug costs,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “Between Gov. Walker’s campaign and the Republicans Governors Association, there are 1.3 million reasons – the $1.3 million contributions made by companies which handle private drug plans in Wisconsin and their employees.”

According to records obtained from the Internal Revenue Service and records at the Wisconsin Campaign Finance Information System:

  • Walker’s gubernatorial campaign received $24,976 in contributions from the employees of the private companies administering Medicare Part D in Wisconsin and an additional $1,250 in Political Action Committee money.
  • Walker’s outside campaign machine at the Republican Governors Association, which spent $5 million to get him elected, has received $1.28 million in the last several years from private companies administering Medicare Part D in Wisconsin.

The list of private companies providing Medicare Part D benefits in Wisconsin is available at: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/ltcare/Partners/infoseries/RS09-01_WIplan1.pdf. Among those companies, the following made contributions to Walker, to the Republican Governors Association, or both: AETNA, Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Cigna Health Care, Coventry Health Care, Dean Health Systems, First Health, Health Net, HealthSpring, Humana, United HealthCare, Wisconsin Physicians Service.

In addition to this, Walker’s deputy chief of staff is a former lobbyist for United HealthCare, one of the state’s Medicare Part D providers. During the 2009-10 session, United HealthCare spent $308,000 in state lobbying costs.

“Our seniors should not have to pay back Gov. Walker’s campaign favors with higher prescription drug costs,” said Ross. “SeniorCare is a bipartisan plan and the best way to get seniors affordable prescription drugs – everyone from Sen. Herb Kohl to Scott McCallum supported SeniorCare for Wisconsin – everyone but Gov. Walker.”

The $100 million related to Medicare Part D will come because unlike SeniorCare, drug companies are forbidden from negotiating lower drug costs under the federal Medicare Part D Plan. This was in part why Medicare Part D was finally passed at 3:00 in the morning after the longest open roll call vote in Congressional history, and regularly vilified as little more than a windfall for the pharmaceutical drug industry.

“Once again, Gov. Walker’s idea of ‘shared sacrifice’ is seniors and the middle class must sacrifice, so Walker’s campaign contributors can share our tax dollars,” said Ross. “Seniors will be asking Gov. Walker’s lapdogs in the Republican-controlled legislature why Walker’s campaign contributors are more important than getting them life-saving medicines.”

# # #

One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

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