Johnson & Johnson Executives Not Remorseful Over ObamaCare Role
With Affordable Care Act Collapsing, Pharmaceutical Giant That Promoted It Now Claims It is "Neither a Red Nor Blue" Company
Free Enterprise Project Continues Campaign to Push Corporate Support for Obamacare Replacement
New Brunswick, NJ / Washington, D.C. - Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky expressed zero remorse today for the company's integral role in creating ObamaCare, but did vow to work with the Trump Administration and congressional leaders on future health care initiatives. He made this statement today at the company's annual shareholder meeting in New Brunswick, New Jersey in response to a question from a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project (FEP) — the nation's leading proponent of free-market investor activism.
"For the millions of Americans who are suffering under the high costs and burdensome regulations of ObamaCare, Gorsky's response was less than satisfying," said National Center General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq., who attended today's Johnson & Johnson shareholder meeting and questioned Gorsky. "While we are glad Johnson & Johnson will play a role in working with President Trump on a new path away from ObamaCare, the company still owes a sincere apology to the millions of Americans who suffered harm under ObamaCare. Companies that foisted ObamaCare on the American people have a moral obligation to repair the damage that law has caused to millions. It's that simple."
At the meeting, Danhof noted:
Instead of supporting the new plan, you stated: "Whether you take the new plan, [or] the old plan, we are going to have to make changes. The challenges are that we still have a lot of other issues to take care of [and] how we are going to make sure that we continue to make some of the important improvements to healthcare from a quality, from an affordability and from a sustainability point of view."
While no plan is perfect, this is far from the full-throated support the company once gave to ObamaCare. In contrast to your comments, after meeting with President Trump, Eli Lilly CEO Dave Ricks said that they "talked about a number of his policy proposals which, on balance, I think would be very good for us. Looking at regulatory reform at the FDA, the changes that are being contemplated on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, and taxation… All those things were good."
As the current political climate offers a unique opportunity for both private industry and health care consumers, I have three quick questions. Do you feel that Johnson & Johnson now has a responsibility to help fix the overall health care marketplace since it was involved in the advancement of ObamaCare? Second, will Johnson & Johnson work with the Trump Administration and Congress to promote its health care agenda as it did with the Obama Administration? And finally, what specific reforms would you suggest to our new President?
Danhof's entire question, as prepared for delivery, is available here.
"In response to my question, Gorsky claimed Johnson & Johnson is neither a red company nor a blue company. Essentially, he tried to portray Johnson & Johnson as politically neutral. But the company went all-in for ObamaCare despite its top-down approach to health care. Now that President Trump wants to move the nation's health care delivery system closer to a market-oriented system, the company has been less than cooperative," added Danhof. "We will continue to monitor Johnson & Johnson's involvement with any potential ObamaCare replacement because it has a duty to the American people to be part of that process."
This marks the third time this year the FEP has confronted health care executives at their shareholder meetings to ask them about their role in ObamaCare and how they might work with the Trump Administration on health care reform.
Another health care provider in the pharmacy industry, Walgreens Boots Alliance, indicated to the National Center in January that it would be willing to help replace ObamaCare. Walgreens Chairman James Skinner told Danhof the company would be willing to work with the Trump Administration in finding a free-market alternative to ObamaCare. Following that meeting, Danhof joined former Rep. J.D. Hayworth on "Newsmax Prime" to discuss why it is important for corporations to work with the Trump Administration on health care reform.
In April, Danhof confronted Humana CEO Bruce Broussard with a similar question. At that meeting, Humana all but abdicated the company's responsibility to be involved in the health care reform process.
Launched in 2007, the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project is the nation's preeminent free-market activist group – focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Since 2014, National Center representatives have participated in nearly 100 shareholder meetings to advance free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers' rights and many other important public policy issues. The Johnson & Johnson meeting marked FEP's eighth shareholder meeting attended so far in 2017.
FEP activism has yielded a tremendous return on investment:
- FEP's highly-publicized questioning of support for the Clinton Foundation by Boeing and General Electric helped trigger an FBI investigation of the Clinton Foundation's activities that dominated the 2016 presidential campaign.
- FEP inquiries prompted Facebook to address political bias against conservatives in social media.
- Company executives acknowledged media bias at ABC News (Disney), the Washington Post and CNN (Time Warner) in response to FEP's challenges, which helped to bring about more objective reporting and more balanced political representation.
- FEP's "Employee Conscience Protection Project" strengthened protections for the political beliefs and activities of over five million workers at 13 major U.S. corporations.
So far in 2017, the FEP has been featured in media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, Newsmax TV, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Breitbart, Denver Post, Drudge Report, Business Insider, Orlando Sentinel, National Public Radio, American Family Radio and SiriusXM. In 2016, the FEP was also featured in the Washington Times, the Fox News Channel's "Cavuto," the Financial Times, Crain's Chicago Business, the Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Newsmax, the Daily Caller, Lifezette, the Seattle Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune among many others. The Free Enterprise Project was also featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassel's 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for email updates here. Follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter for general announcements. To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by National Center staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at @NCPPRMedia.