Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Examining A Questionable Big Pharma Influence in Connecticut Law and Politics

Exploring the individuals, and individual entities, that are really behind the actions taken by government, whether local, state, federal, or global, is a constant theme here at, and one such organization that will continue to come up, when researching events taking place in Connecticut, as well as across the country, is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The RWJF is one of the largest private foundations in the country, with a stated goal to "improve the health and health care of all Americans."  Important to note, as we trace the RWJF's involvement in Connecticut legislative policy, is that the RWJF was established with a bequest of shares of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) from its late chief executive, Robert Wood Johnson.  Johnson & Johnson is one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies.  This connection is important because many legislative actions, and programs, supported, and funded, by the RWJF, would seemingly benefit the pharmaceutical industry.  Let us explore some of these programs, and legislation, supported by the RWJF, in the state of Connecticut.

In March 2014, I published an article titled Forced Mental Health Assessments Being Proposed For All Children In Connecticut, which discussed legislation that was being presented in the state legislature of Connecticut, which would have required "each pupil enrolled in public school at grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 and each home-schooled child at ages 12, 14 and 17 to have a confidential behavioral health assessment."  This legislation was lobbied for by the president of the board of directors for the CT Association of School
Based Health Centers, JoAnn Eaccarino.  The CT Association of School Based Health Centers receives funding and support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

There is also a program in operation in Connecticut, that has received millions of dollars from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, called "Child First", which is an "evidence-based model that uses home visits and a network of community services to prevent the devastating effects of early childhood adversity."  The founder of Child First, Darcy Lowell, regularly submits testimony to the state legislature, usually in favor of legislation that would use the state to increase the number of children being examined for "mental health".

In a presentation to the state Commission on Children, Lowell discussed the Child First program, where she listed situations that her organization deems "environmental risks" to children.  The list includes obvious risks to children, such as physical abuse, and lack of food, but it also includes questionable risks such as "single parenthood", and "unemployment".  The DCF, or Department of Children and Families, is listed as the leading agency of the Child First program.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation connection to these type of programs should be scrutinized.  It is important to understand how these home-visitation programs and behavioral mental health assessments can be used to increase the number of children on pharmaceutical drugs, thus profiting big pharmaceutical companies like Johnson & Johnson.  Former veteran Congressman Dr. Ron Paul, in 2011, was speaking out against this push for mandatory health screenings, calling it "a persistent lobbying effort, funded by pharmaceutical companies, to increase the number of these (drug) prescriptions to even more children."  If you are thinking that you have nothing to worry about, because neither you, or your children, have a mental illness, keep in mind that the list of mental disorders is ever-growing, and includes illness' such as "Oppositional Defiant Disorder", which you can be labeled with for "disagreeing with someone in a position of authority".  Also, some studies, like the one put out by the Children’s Services Working Group, suggest that the number of people that have a mental illness, many of whom unknowingly, may be as high as 20%, in a state like Connecticut.

 The DCF, being involved with these programs raises more red flags when we know that "foster children were prescribed psychotropic drugs at rates nearly five times higher than non-foster children."

Home-visitation programs, Johnson & Johnson, and the RWJF, also are connected with the recently passed Obamacare bill, or the Affordable Care Act.  The previously mentioned founder of Child First, Darcy Lowell, explained in a testimony to the Select Committee on Children that the Child First program "is now one of the 12 HRSA designated evidence-based home visiting models that is eligible for national dissemination with funding from the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Initiative (MIECHV) of the Affordable Care Act."  Indeed, section 2951 of the Affordable Care Act is titled "Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs", and gives a general description of the home-visitation program to be implemented.

The MIECHV is a federal program started under the Obama administration, which "supports pregnant women and families and helps parents of children from birth to age 5 tap the resources and develop the skills they need to raise children who are physically, socially and emotionally healthy and ready to learn."  Officials in the Obama administration have repeatedly expressed their belief that the federal government should ensure that the state is involving itself into the lives of children, from birth.  One example comes from former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, who discussed the idea of having government officials make home visits to parents of newborns, to "help" them:
Kathleen Sebelius
"There still needs to be great understanding that what the president has put on the table is really a birth to five proposal.  Recognizing that you can't start at four year olds, we really need

to start at birth.  So there will be an enhancement of home visiting, which we know is an evidence based strategy, that helps parents be good parents."
The RWJF was a big supporter of the Affordable Care Act, and had been lobbying for universal health care coverage for decades.  In an article titled, "How the left and progressive foundations gave us ObamaCare -- a law hated by so many", journalist Daniel Horowitz, describes the RWJF influence:
"Perhaps most influential was the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest philanthropy focused exclusively on health care. Long a backer of universal health care coverage, the foundation spent millions in the 90s backing state and national efforts to pass legislation expanding government-provided health care and even sponsored community forums in which Hillary Clinton promoted her health-care plan—this despite being ostensibly nonpartisan. Such was the foundation's financial influence on the health care debate that by 1995 it alone accounted for almost 45 percent of all giving in the area of health policy in America."
The RWJF is still very much involved with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including funding programs that look to maximize coverage expansion under the Affordable Care Act, funding studies that monitor the implementation of the ACA, and making YouTube videos promoting the ACA.

Another organization involved with the Affordable Care Act, with a financial connection to Johnson & Johnson, is PhRMA, or the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which is a trade group representing the pharmaceutical research and biopharmaceutical companies in the United States. Through its contributions to the PhRMA lobby, Johnson & Johnson directly supported the passage of ObamaCare.  More incredibly, after the Obamacare legislation was passed, the women credited with being the "architect" of the Affordable Care Act, Elizabeth Fowler, was giving a senior-level position leading 'global health policy' at Johnson & Johnson's government affairs and policy group.

Getting back specifically to Connecticut, the RWJF provides funding to another organization called Connecticut Voices For Children.   This organization says that they "are a research-based think tank that advocates for policies that benefit the state’s children and families."  Connecticut Voices For Children offers internships to college and graduate students to give them experience in policy analysis and legislation advocacy.  These interns can then go on to push for legislation that benefits the agenda of the Connecticut Voices for Children, and their funders.  One example is Aimee Stupak, who worked as an intern at Connecticut Voices For Children, and holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Connecticut of Social Work.  Stupak has submitted testimony to the state legislature in support the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a treaty that, as described in the analysis "Parents Beware: The United Nations Looking To Give Children of Connecticut Special "Rights", looks to have more state involvement in the upbringing of children, limiting the rights of the parents over their children.

There are other organizations in Connecticut, that receive funding from the RWJF, such as Connecticut FUSE, that I have yet to look more into, though because of their association with the RWJF, deserve a critical review.

It should be noted that the people, and organizations, mentioned in this analysis, are not necessarily knowingly engaging in malicious, immoral, or illegal, behavior.  The connections made are solely for the purpose of documenting, and analyzing, the driving forces behind legislative action.  The influence, and power, of tax free foundations, and public/private partnerships, are playing a major role in the changes occurring in society, and continuing to document these connections in the state of Connecticut, will help us better understand the ever-changing environment around us.

Related Articles:
  • Go To Work and Give The Government Your Children: The Feminist UN Agenda 21 Plan To "Empower" Women - August 22, 2014 (link)
  • Agenda 21: The Rockefellers Are Building Human Settlement Zones In Connecticut - March 26, 2014 (link)
  • Parents Beware: The United Nations Looking To Give Children of Connecticut Special "Rights" - December 28, 2013 (link)
  • Forced Mental Health Assessments Being Proposed For All Children In Connecticut - March 15, 2013 (link)
  • After Writing ObamaCare Legislation, Elizabeth Fowler Goes To Work For Largest Pharmaceutical Company In The World - December 7, 2012 (link)

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