This blog features information about the political campaign nationally and in the state of Pennsylvania. it will discuss congressional races western PA, but it won't restrict comments to those jurisdictions. On many occasions, it will feature humor, but its main purpose is to "cut the legs off" political jihad. This is a site for political grown-ups of all ages.

Location: Ambridge, Pennsylvania, United States

I have a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester (English and American Literature). I taught for 10 years at various educational institutions (Univ. of Rochester, my alma mater, College of William and Mary, and University of Georgia, where I was also Asst. Ed. of the Georgia Review. Later, I worked as a speechwriter and "thinker" at various large companies, including Phillips Petroleum, Gulf Oil, Aetna, Merck (consultant), and Eli Lilly (consultant), among many others. I'm a full-time writer and political commentator/analyst. Favorite company: AudioTech Business Books. Favorite female: my wife, Patricia Ann Maloney. Favorite politcal candidate: Diana Lynn Irey (PA's 12th congressional district)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Jason Altmire: A "Tool" of UPMC

As you may note, Kevin from Cranberry has written two comments on my blog. He's concerned that I called Jason Altmire, congressperson-elect from the 4th District, where both Kevin and I reside, a "tool of UPMC." I wrote two responses to Kevin, which I've combined below.

Hi Kevin: Altmire was an employee of UPMC and a lobbyist for all their key policy stands. I do not detect any distance between his policy stands on health care and those of UPMC.

As I've explained, I believe his policy approaches are designed mainly to enrich the medical professionals and administrators of UPMC. I've seen no evidence that he cares about bringing in check UPMC's -- or any other hospital chain's -- wild over-charging of patients and insurers.

In fact, he identifies insurers as the enemy and the "doctors" as beyond criticism. My point is that insurers are a key element in holding down America's badly inflated health costs.

I've pointed out at great length not how I have "differences of opinion" with Mr. Altmire, but rather how he is factually wrong about key health care issues. For example, he says Medicare Plan D, which I participate in, is "costing seniors . . . thousands of dollars." I have used detailed example to show that is just plain wrong.

UPMC was a significant contributor (see www. to Jason Altmire's campaign and, as I said, he has not deviated from that company's policies in any way that I can determine.

That's what I meant about his being being a "tool." If he demonstrates that he does in fact take a critical view of UPMC's polcies on any substantial issue, I will say that he is no longer a tool.

I do appreciate your writing to me about my column. I've also written about Congressman John Murtha (12th District) and his relationship to UPMC, which gave him at least $103,000 for purposes which are not clear (but are at least imaginable).

Kevin, I'll be writing more about Rep. Altmire betwen now and the next election. I hope you'll continue to read and to give your views. I'm especially interested in knowing about any steps he takes that differ from those held by UPMC. All the best . . .

In another e-mail, Kevin mentions the following information:
UPMC 2006 Contributions:( $14,275

[Melissa] Hart: $14,275

[Jason] Altmire: 8,050

I remind Kevin: You forgot to add John Murtha: $103,000 from UPMC, and Murtha to Altmire: $4,000.

UPMC gave some amount of money to Melissa Hart when it appeared she would win the election -- and in recognition of her assignments to key committees. It gave John Murtha a huge amount of money because he obtained "earmarks" that produced great financial benefits for the hospital system (primarily through the Windber facility).

Some of the other contributors to Altmire's campaign have business ties to UPMC, a subject I'll write about in the future. Also, many of Altmire's misleading commercials were financed by 527s, supposedly independent groups. That financing is sometimes difficult to determine, but I'm working on it.

Of course, UPMC paid Altmire a huge salary (and benefits) as a lobbyist, and those funds in his financial "granary" seemingly enabled him to campaign full-time from June, 2005 until November 7, 2006.
As a public official, Altmire needs to release all details of the financial arrangements he had with UPMC before -- and after -- he "resigned" in June, 2005.

One instructive area I'm studying now is the relationship between "charitable contributions" Altmire authorized while he was an acting vice president at UPMC and political contributions he received in his campaign for the 4th District seat.

Hope this clarifies matters.


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