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Report: Lobbyist Aided Ohio Lawmaker With Health Care Column

Ohio Senator Steve Huffman at desk.
Aaron Payne
/
Ohio Valley ReSource
A report by The Washington Post found Ohio Senator Steve Huffman, also an emergency room doctor, wrote opinion columns about health care with the help from lobbists.

Lobbyists were involved in drafting or revising opinion columns about health care written by state lawmakers in Ohio and Montana, officials said.

Lobbyists were involved in producing the final versions of articles warning of the dangers of Medicare-for-all and other government involvement in health care, The Washington Post reported Monday.

An aide to Republican state Sen. Steve Huffman of Ohio confirmed Huffman’s opinion column criticizing Medicare-for-all was written with the help of Ohio-based lobbyist Kathleen DeLand. Huffman's column ran on September 30 in the Sidney Daily News with the headline "Medicare for all not a workable solution."

State Rep. Kathy Kelker and Sen. Jen Gross of Montana, both Democrats, said editorials they published separately about the single-payer health proposal included language provided by Montana lobbyist John MacDonald.

None of the lawmakers’ columns disclosed they were written with lobbyist assistance.

Information about lobbyist involvement in the articles was included in emails provided by advocacy group Medicare for All Now, which supports the single-payer system. The group obtained the documents through Freedom of Information Act requests.

MacDonald contacted Gross on behalf of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a multimillion-dollar industry group founded in 2018 and funded by hospitals, private insurers, drug companies, and other private health-care firms, Gross said.

Neither of the consultants who helped write the op-eds would confirm or deny whether they had been hired by the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future.

MacDonald disclosed in private emails that he worked for an unnamed client, but in a phone interview said he could not provide client information.

DeLand’s emails to Huffman’s Ohio staff include the acronym “PAHCF” in a subject line. DeLand did not return requests for comment about whether she had been hired by the group.

John Fortney, a spokesman for the Ohio Senate Majority Caucus, said in a statement: “The legislative process is open to input from everyone, including experts from [the] medical community. Senator Huffman is an emergency room doctor and understands the serious problems and affordability of the left’s misguided single payer agenda.”

The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future has spent more than $1 million on television advertisements since August warning against Medicare-for-all and other changes to the health-care system, according to tracking data.