COLUMBUS, OH: PBM fiasco shows more must be done to hold corporate executives responsible

June 24, 2021

Letter to the Editor

PBM fiasco shows more must be done to hold corporate executives responsible

I write to thank The Dispatch for its series on Pharmacy Benefit Managers and the editorial in the June 20 edition that summarized how PBMs prey upon the country’s health care system and increase the cost of health care.

More:Our view: 'Middlemen' tactics increase costs, reduce health-care options

The series illustrates the essential role local newspapers play in protecting the public interest.

It also revealed yet another example of how executives in corporations routinely escape accountability for their criminal actions because a corporation is considered a “person” under current U.S. law.

The Dispatch reported how Centene corporation and its subsidiaries double-billed Ohio for their services, were sued by the state and then paid the state $88 million to “settle” the case without admitting any wrongdoing. It also paid a total of $1.1 billion to settle claims from several other states.

But no one faced criminal charges. Not the executives and managers who planned the thefts. Not the accountants who buried the thefts in annual reports. Not the corporate boards that signed off on those reports. And of course, since a company cannot be locked up, not the corporate “person” that was allowed to use its stolen money to buy its way out of accountability. Everyone involved in this multistate criminal conspiracy walks away scot-free.

More:Centene's $88 million deal with Ohio comes on top of $1.1 billion set aside to cover other U.S. lawsuits

So I ask the question: If an individual swindles senior citizens and reaps millions of dollars, how much of that money should it take to pay a large fine, admit no wrongdoing and walk away with no criminal liability?

Corporations are not people.

As Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens noted in 2010, the idea of corporate personhood “often serves as a useful legal fiction…” Corporations “are not themselves members of 'we the people' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.”

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Steve Abbott, Columbus