Health Reform Dissenter Received Inordinately Large Pay-Out From Pharmacy Chain in Purchase of Pharmacy

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Rep. Mike Ross has been the most consistent dissenter from his party’s attempt to pass health care reform citing costs, fear of government control and rising deficits. One thing he has failed to mention in all of this is his personal financial investment in making sure certain provisions do not pass into law. According to an investigative report by the award-winning Marcus Stern of ProPublica, Ross sold a pharmacy he owned to a national pharmacy chain for a price that far exceeded its value.

Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross — a Blue Dog Democrat playing a key role in the health care debate — sold a piece of commercial property in 2007 for substantially more than a county assessment [2] (PDF) and an independent appraisal [3] (PDF) say it was worth.

But the $420,000 was just the beginning of what Ross and his pharmacist wife, Holly, made from the sale of Holly’s Health Mart. The owner of USA Drug, Stephen L. LaFrance Sr., also paid the Rosses $500,000 to $1 million for the pharmacy’s assets and paid Holly Ross another $100,001 to $250,000 for signing a non-compete agreement. Those numbers, which Ross listed on the financial disclosure reports he files as a member of Congress, bring the total value of the transaction to between $1 million and $1.67 million.

Ross’ wife was also allowed to keep her job as the store’s pharmacist. Ross is also a huge recipient of health care industry campaign cash having pulled in $342,475 since 2007, more than from any other industry. The pharmacy chain in question, USA Drug, is lobbying Congress to not include a public option in any health reform bill that is reported. Ross is one of the biggest opponents of a public option, stating he will vote against any bill that contains one.

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