AOC, progressive Dems attack corporate greed during health care discussion

AOC, progressive Dems attack corporate greed during health care discussion
© Greg Nash

Several progressive members of the House Democratic Caucus joined a livestreamed conversation on health care reform on Wednesday and attacked what they said was widespread greed and fraud in the pharmaceutical and health care industries.

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOhio special election: A good day for Democrats Five takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Shontel Brown wins Ohio Democratic primary in show of establishment strength MORE (D-N.Y.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalHillicon Valley: Senators highlight security threats from China during rare public hearing | Facebook suspends accounts of NYU researchers who've criticized platform Democrats urge Amazon, Facebook to drop requests for Khan recusal 'The Squad' celebrates Biden eviction moratorium MORE (D-Wash.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) spoke at the event hosted by the left-leaning Center for Health and Democracy, where they and former Cigna executive Wendell Potter, now a "Medicare for All" advocate, discussed the state of the U.S. health care system.

Porter highlighted an example of the skyrocketing prices of a cancer drug despite no significant changes made to its formula or availability. 

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"Health care companies cheat patients without any sort of consequences. That's the stone-cold fact of where our healthcare system is today," Porter said. "These massive corporations are lining their pockets at the expense of Americans' health."

"Year after year, more and more Americans, even Republicans, are increasing in their support for a Medicare for All system and guaranteeing health care as a human right in the United States," Ocasio-Cortez added.

The host and lawmakers also touched on potential resistance from the health insurance industry to a plan floated by President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden nominates Mark Brzezinski to be U.S. ambassador to Poland 10 dead after overloaded van crashes in south Texas Majority of New York state Assembly support beginning process to impeach Cuomo: AP MORE to add a publicly funded insurance option, a move seen as a compromise with single-payer health care advocates.

Potter told The Hill earlier this week that the conversation's purpose was to help organize grassroots support behind the reforms that progressives hope to accomplish in the health care sector under a Biden administration.

“At a time when millions of Americans are dying or going bankrupt because of a broken, profit-driven scheme that enriches corporations, it’s vital and urgent that we transform our healthcare system,” she said.

“During this pandemic, when a countless number of Americans have lost their jobs and health insurance, insurance companies like the ones I worked for are posting record profits, and they’ll be using that windfall to try to stop any progress next year,” Potter continued. “This conversation, with some of the most forward-thinking leaders on health care in our nation, will begin building the grassroots support we need to beat back these forces.”