DaVita-Your Tax Dollars at Work

DaVita’s “Not All Heroes Wear Capes” Ad for McMorris Rodgers. There is also a 15 second version.

Dear Group,

It has started. Any of you who watch television have repeatedly seen two ads in support of of McMorris Rodgers. First, there was the “Apple Stand” ad paid for out of CMR’s personal campaign coffer. Now we have the DaVita Corporation’s “Not All Heroes Wear Capes” Ad “Paid For By DaVita, Inc.” According to the 30 second ad, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers is making “Heroic efforts in the halls of Congress to empower everyday heroes like nurses and doctors to provide better coordinated health care.” McMorris Rodgers smiling image appears twice. The words “Cathy McMorris Rodgers,” are enthusiastically intoned three times accompanied by dramatic music. The consumer of this propaganda is exhorted to support “The Patients Act,” no bill number, no detail…clearly, there is no expectation the viewer will scurry to their computer to look it up. The whole point is to embed CMR’s multi-syllabic name in the mind of the viewer. (If you’re curious enough to want to look at the “Patients Act” there is a link way below in the P.S.s.)

First, recognize this ad as a product of the decades long push by the Republican Party to unleash the power of the wealthy to produce and market propaganda to the public. This ad is an “independent expenditure,” part of the “First Amendment Right of free speech” accorded to “corporate speech,” The “right” of corporations as “persons” to spend any amount at any time influencing elections comes to us courtesy of a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court with the Citizens United decision of 2010 and the cases that followed it. As long as the ad is “independent” of the candidate, i.e. the candidate’s campaign supposedly cannot coordinate the “independent” ads with the efforts of the campaign, such ads are now perfectly legal right up to the day of the election. Expect to see many more of them. 

DaVita’s “Not all heroes wear capes” ad is slick, but DaVita, Inc. certainly can afford it. DaVita, Inc. is a huge company with nearly 19 billion dollars in assets and 664 million dollars in net income in 2017. You can read about it here in Wikipedia. DaVita’s dialysis centers are everywhere. There are three in Spokane alone. Nationwide 70 percent of the dialysis market has been cornered by just two companies, DaVita and Fresenius. (Fresenius also has three dialysis clinics in Spokane.)


McMorris Rodgers is all about the “free market,” right? McMorris Rodgers preaches about “freedom” and “transparency” when it comes to health insurance and health care every chance she gets. DaVita is a corporation competing in a “free market” for health care dollars, right? Well, not quite.

This is very big business, big business paid for by you and me. Treating end stage kidney disease takes up one percent of the entire U.S. federal budget. The End Stage Renal Disease Program (ESRD), enacted in 1972 under Richard M. Nixon (remember he was a Republican before Republicans became Libertarians), extended Medicare benefits for renal dialysis to those under sixty-five. In 1972 there were about 10,000 people in the U.S. dependent on the new technology of dialysis to stay alive. Today there are nearly half a million (thanks mostly to renal disease associated with diabetes and high blood pressure). 90% percent of today’s dialysis patients have their dialysis paid for by ESRD under Medicare.

DaVita is dependent on continued payment of our tax dollars through Medicare for its existence and profit. DaVita takes those tax dollars and uses them to shore up support for McMorris Rodgers with their inane “Not All Heroes Wear Capes” ad put before the electorate’s passive eyes on their television screens.

The ad money is probably peanuts compared to the salary of Kent Thiry, DaVita’s CEO, or to the money DaVita spends on corporate entertainment, some of which has featured Thiry riding into a packed convention hall on a horse, or compared to the money made by holders of DaVita stock. 

So how do you feel about your tax dollars fueling inane ads for the electorate to passively ingest? Consider it a courtesy of the Republican Party’s unified efforts to trash campaign finance law. Remember these ads every time McMorris Rodgers speaks of “the ‘free’ market” and “transparency.”

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. If you enjoy John Oliver’s commentary and have 24 minutes to watch his monologue on DaVita, click here, for the youtube video. He delivers a well-deserved skewering.

P.P.S. DaVita’s ad is just one more manifestation of corporations using money from your tax dollars to foist ads to you on TV. Think of the all the drug company ads for Viagra brought to you courtesy of your tax dollars funneled through Medicare, Part D (Part D is a product of the George W. Bush administration, no less)

P.P.P.S If you really want to dig around in the weeds well beyond what DaVita’s ad actually wants you to remember you can delve into the what they call the “Patients Act.” If took some sleuthing for me to determine they were referring to H.R.4143 – Dialysis PATIENTS Demonstration Act of 2017. The bill itself makes some sense, but is, of course, financially to the benefit of DaVita by steering some more tax dollars its way.