I read the recent Alabama Voices opinion piece by Skip Tucker headlined “Injustice Is Injustice.” In it, Mr. Tucker, executive director of Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse, tells of being held up by a bully holding a knife and demanding a quarter from him when he was in the fourth grade.
He compared that bully’s long-ago actions to the actions I have taken as attorney general to hold the drug companies accountable that have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from Alabama’s Medicaid program by manipulating their prices. He calls our work to recover the monies that were wrongfully taken and that pushed Medicaid ever closer to a budget crisis an “injustice.”
You do not have to take my word for it. Pleadings in courts across America stand as a stark reminder that those who steal are not just bullies in Mr. Tucker’s long-ago past, nor do they always use knives to do their stealing.
Instead, they use insulin shots, diabetic testing supplies, heart and stroke medications, and other life-saving medicines and their complicated pricing schemes to force those they have stolen from to pay. And pay they have.
The bullies of today are after far more than a quarter. Make no mistake, though; their target is still schoolchildren — and the elderly and the taxpayers of Alabama who have been robbed of the monies that fund health care for the least among us.
Stop and consider who these companies really are. They are not all the wholesome good corporate citizens that Mr. Tucker would have us believe. Instead, in recent years, 11 drug companies have pled guilty to criminal charges and/or paid criminal or civil fines in excess of $4 billion relating to their practices of fraudulently pricing their drugs.
No, these are no mere schoolyard bullies and their thefts are for more than lunch money. Often, they are crimes.
To Mr. Tucker and to everyone who comes to Alabama to do business, I say again that Alabama is a good place to do business, but it is, as it should be, a very bad place to come to steal and cheat.
So long as I am attorney general, my pledge to every citizen is the same: No matter how big and rich the bully may be and whether he uses a knife or a complicated Medicaid reimbursement plan as his weapon, the innocent have nothing to fear and the guilty need only fear that justice will be done.
To do otherwise — now that would be injustice.
Troy King is attorney general of Alabama.