Nearly four dozen senior congressional staffers attended a retreat at Salamander Resort & Spa, funded by the group Center Forward,  to connect staffers to health care lobbyists focused on defeating Medicare for All.

“I don’t think there were any supporters of Medicare-for-all speaking. We at the Kaiser Family Foundation don’t take a position on any issues, pro or con,” wrote Larry Levitt, one of the speakers at the three-day retreat, in an email to The Intercept. “I discussed a variety of health care issues being debated in Congress, including Medicare-for-all and a public option, explaining their benefits and potential downsides.”

The group Center Forward boasts many policy positions it holds as the way to break partisan gridlock. Their plan on health care includes maintaining the provision that bars the government from negotiating for lower prices on prescription drugs — such provisions that cost taxpayers and patients an estimated $73 billion per year.

Ethics Committee rules prohibit registered lobbyists from arranging luxury travel for members of Congress or their aides, but since forms filled out for the trip were signed by the group's executive director, Cori Kramer, who is not a registered lobbyist unlike the rest of the group's board the trips were seen as legal.

"This event wasn’t about fixing the health care system. It was about protecting the health care industry, no matter the cost to patients, families, workers, or employers,” said Wendell Potter, president of Business Initiative for Health Policy. “The industry is the root cause of our health care crisis. A congressional staffer serious about finding solutions wouldn’t touch that retreat with a 10-foot pole."

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