Meet Richard Stephenson from Barrington Hills, Illinois, 73. A Lawer he started out working in investment banking. Then in 1975 Richard Stephenson saw a vulnerable population, cancer patients as a business opportunity. He is the founder and chairman of Cancer Treatment Centers of America started in 1988. Stephenson stands to lose millions in profits from his 5 lucrative, heavily advertised Cancer Treatment Centers from Obamacare limiting profits. Cancer Treatment Centers of America operates hospitals in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, and Illinois. CTCA does not release any revenue or profit figures.
Stephenson is also a far right wing ideologue, and he wants to destroy the Affordable Care Act. Recently Stephenson purchased a political apparatus very influential in the Tea Party.
But first a little about the kind of care Stephenson's Cancer Treatment Centers of America provides. Their TV ads (often run in heavy rotation during daytime TV) tout high survival rates, as does their website. But there are serious questions about the validity of those claims.
Special Report: Behind a cancer-treatment firm's rosy survival claims
By Sharon Begley and Robin Respaut
BEATING THE AVERAGES
CTCA reports on its website that the percentage of its patients who are alive after six months, a year, 18 months and longer regularly tops national figures. For instance, 60 percent of its non-small-cell lung cancer patients are alive at six months, CTCA says, compared to 38 percent nationally. And 64 percent of its prostate cancer patients are alive at three years, versus 38 percent nationally.
The experts were unanimous that CTCA's patients are different from the patients the company compares them to, in a way that skews their survival data. It has relatively few elderly patients, even though cancer is a disease of the aged. It has almost none who are uninsured or covered by Medicaid - patients who tend to die sooner if they develop cancer and who are comparatively numerous in national statistics.
Carolyn Holmes, a former CTCA oncology information specialist in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said she and others routinely tried to turn away people who "were the wrong demographic" because they were less likely to have an insurance policy that CTCA preferred. Holmes said she would try to "let those people down easy."
He also has a history of pushing limits. A graduate of Northwestern University Law School, Stephenson started out as an investment banker. In 1966 he became a trustee of Americans Building Constitutionally, an organization that helped wealthy individuals set up not-for-profit corporations and personal trusts to avoid paying federal income and inheritance taxes.There is also a controversy over Cancer Treatment Centers of America's providing unproven and ineffective treatments for cancer.
In 1969, a California state court found the group's top official and six others guilty of grand theft or conspiring to commit grand theft. Stephenson had pleaded no contest to false advertising, a misdemeanor, and testified for the state, according to media reports at the time.
Making a Profit from Offering Ineffective Therapies to Cancer Patients
It sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory: a secretive businessman founds a for-profit medical center to treat cancer. His hospitals offer conventional treatments but also sell highly questionable, unscientific treatments to vulnerable patients. These treatments help to increase profits. The businessman uses the profits from his cancer hospitals to support his favorite right-wing causes. Patients have no idea that the fees they pay for treatment help support these causes.
It may sound unbelievable, but it’s true. Most of this story was described in a lengthy exposé just published in the Washington Post on Christmas day. The Post revealed that Richard Stephenson, the founder of a large for-profit cancer center, is also one of the primary funding sources for Freedom Works, a right-wing Tea Party organization that played a major role in the 2012 elections.
For-profit hospitals present a big ethical problem, even when they provide proper care. The problem is that motivation to increase profits may work against the interest of patients. I don’t want to debate that here, because CTCA has another, more serious problem. Alongside standard, science-based cancer therapies, CTCA also offers an array of questionable, unscientific therapies, which it proudly labels as part of its “integrative cancer treatment.”
None of the treatments in this list has any scientific support showing that they provide a benefit to cancer patients. Some of them carry a real risk of harm, as I’ve written about previously.Stephenson became very influential with the Tea Party ever since he ousted Dick Army in a coup at FreedomWorks buying Army out for $400,000 a year over 20 years in exchange for Armey’s resignation.
FreedomWorks tea party group nearly falls apart in fight between old and new guardSo now Stephenson is in a position to threaten the whole Republican caucus in both House and Senate with primaries using the Tea Party as his club. So if any Republicans in congress don't do their utmost to sabotage Obamacare they can count on a well funded primary challenge.
By Amy Gardner
The episode illustrates the growing role of wealthy donors in swaying the direction of FreedomWorks and other political groups, which increasingly rely on unlimited contributions from corporations and financiers for their financial livelihood. Such gifts are often sent through corporate shells or nonprofit groups that do not have to disclose their donors, making it impossible for the public to know who is funding them.
In the weeks before the election, more than $12 million in donations was funneled through two Tennessee corporations to the FreedomWorks super PAC after negotiations with Stephenson over a preelection gift of the same size, according to three current and former employees with knowledge of the arrangement. The origin of the money has not previously been reported.
Hat tip to War on Error for this graphic.
Richard Stephenson along with the Koch Brothers are (some of?) the Tea Party's Big Money Marionettes.