In 2010, before the Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress, the pharmaceutical industry’s top lobbying group was a very public supporter of the measure. It even helped fund a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaignbacking passage of the law.
But last year, when Republicans mounted an aggressive effort to repeal the law, the group made a point of staying outside the fray. “We’ve not taken a position,” Stephen Ubl, head of the organization, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, said in an interview in March 2017.
That stance, however, was at odds with its financial support of another group, the American Action Network, which was heavily involved in the effort to repeal the act, often referred to as Obamacare. The network spent an estimated $10 million on an ad campaign designed to build voter support for its elimination…
PhRMA was one of AAN’s biggest donors the previous year, giving it $6.1 million, federal regulatory filings show. And PhRMA had a substantial interest in the outcome of the repeal efforts. Among other actions, the Republican-backed health bill would have eliminated a fee the companies pay the federal government, one estimated at $28 billion over a decade.
But there was no way the public could have known at the time about PhRMA’s support of the network or the identity of other deep-pocketed financiers behind the group.
Unlike groups receiving its funds, PhRMA and similar nonprofits must report the grants in their own Internal Revenue Service filings. But the disclosures don’t occur until months or sometimes more than a year after the donation.