Below are excerpts from ProPublica.

  • “Private equity-backed medical staffing companies that have cut doctors’ pay are continuing to spend millions on political ads, according to Federal Communications Commission disclosures.”
  • “The ads amount to $2.2 million since Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency on Jan. 31. About $1.2 million has been spent since President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration on March 13, the disclosures show.”
  • “The companies behind the ads, TeamHealth and Envision Healthcare, are among the staffing firms that have cut pay and benefits for emergency room doctors and other medical workers. The companies say the cuts are needed to cope with falling income because non-coronavirus patients are avoiding hospitals. Executives at TeamHealth and Envision also took pay cuts.”
  • But Envision and TeamHealth have continued to pour money into a joint political ad campaign. Their TV and radio spots are aimed at pressuring lawmakers working to address ‘surprise billing,’ where patients get stuck with huge medical costs from out-of-network providers they had no say in choosing. The ads oppose capping out-of-network costs based on median prices in the area.”
  • The spending totals don’t include digital ads, which aren’t reported to the FCC. Facebook’s own disclosures show several thousand dollars more on recent ads invoking the coronavirus pandemic to make their case. Some of the ads name individual lawmakers and target their constituents.”
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., called on the companies’ private equity backers to reverse the pay cuts, citing ProPublica’s earlier reporting. ‘As business leaders who direct and manage billions of dollars, you should be stepping up to protect the financial security of frontline essential workers,’ Porter and Warren said in an April 15 letter. ‘They are putting themselves at risk every single day to provide for those fighting COVID-19, and to put them at risk of financial harm during this time is unacceptable.'”
  • “‘At a time when they are cutting back benefits and pay for their own employees, they prefer to invest more resources in running a disingenuous ad campaign about their support for doctors,’ the Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing said in a statement to ProPublica. ‘Give us a break. Millions of patients are at risk of receiving a bankrupting surprise medical bill because these companies and out-of-network providers continue to exploit the market.'”
  • “’They’ve always just been worried more about the bottom line than being appreciative of their people,’ said an Envision doctor whose pay was cut and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the company has prohibited employees from speaking publicly. “’Physicians don’t feel like they’re being heard and respected for what they do, but we still show up and take care of patients. This is part of what’s breaking the system down.’”