A group of renowned hip-hop artists, including Fat Joe, Rick Ross, Busta Rhymes, Method Man, French Montana, and Chuck D, have joined forces with the national nonprofit organization Power to the Patients. This collaboration, led by filmmaker Kevin Morra, aims to advocate for transparency in the American healthcare system.
Power to the Patients, co-founded by Kevin Morra, entrepreneur Cynthia Fisher, and filmmaker Paul J. Morra, has been dedicated to achieving systemwide price transparency in healthcare. Their mission supports legislative efforts at all levels of government, holds healthcare institutions and insurers accountable for complying with federal transparency rules, and educates Americans about their right to know actual healthcare prices.
The current federal transparency rules are often disregarded by hospitals and insurers without facing the consequences, raising concerns about the effectiveness of these regulations in ensuring transparency in healthcare pricing.
In the newly released PSA, the hip-hop legends urge elected officials to commit to a healthcare system characterized by transparency, echoing Kevin Morra’s commitment to driving change.
In conversation with The Source, Morra details how the PSA campaign came together, the goal of the PSA, and more.
THE SOURCE: Can you tell us more about the recent PSA campaign where Power To The Patients collaborated with hip-hop legends like Fat Joe, Rick Ross, and others? What was the inspiration behind this collaboration?
Kevin Morra: As Hip Hop turned 50, some of the culture’s most legendary icons joined Power to the Patients to fight for price transparency in healthcare, which is an absolutely critical issue for every single person and community across the country. Their support for this issue brings so much gravitas. Hospitals and Insurance companies have egregiously rigged our healthcare system for their enormous profits at the expense of our paychecks and financial stability, putting at risk both our health and our lives. Because we are dealing with people’s well-being, this is not just an economic issue, it’s also a humanitarian one. The combined effort from Fat Joe, Method Man, Chuck D, Busta Rhymes, Rick Ross and French Montana to step up and lend their voices, their platform, and their passion against this healthcare injustice only proves the maturity, responsibility, and the continued resistance so engrained into the fabric of Hip Hop culture. As discussed with Chuck D on-set, the early roots of our activism, including the very spark for Power to the Patients, is prominently bred from rebellious art and culture, protest music, and key influences like Public Enemy. To challenge an enormous system like healthcare, we do need powerful inspiration and so it’s very apropos to have these types of legendary voices joining a movement of this nature. This series of Hip Hop PSAs fighting for healthcare price transparency showcases the commitment Hip Hop maintains and possesses for meaningful political, social, and economic improvements. This entire movement is for the people.
How did you manage to get all these hip-hop icons together?
My brother Paul and I are filmmakers and Fat Joe and Terror Squad member Raul have been friends of ours for over twenty years now, originally meeting through a television show we Produced for MTV. The Terror Squad has always been the real deal and always willing to stand on principle and fight the good fight. So, when we shared with them the mission for “Power to the Patients,” they immediately jumped on board and, together, we filmed a very poignant PSA (Public Service Announcement) on a rooftop in the South Bronx, which is an area especially devastated by out of control healthcare costs and overcharges at hospitals. In fact, the Bronx is one of the many communities where people often refuse to enter a hospital, no matter what, out of a justified fear that the resulting hospital bill could destroy the financial security for themselves and their family. It’s all so tragic. We love our nurses and we need our doctors, but the big business of American healthcare is a totally corrupt and unconscionable system rigged by the venture capitalists and healthcare profiteers who run our hospitals and insurance companies and hide their prices in order to create historic corporate profits. As a result of this greed, they are quite literally destroying people’s lives.
In April of this year, Busta Rhymes, French Montana, Rick Ross, and Fat Joe joined us for a performance at what became one of the most incredible live musical performance events Washington, D.C. has ever seen. This Power to the Patients event kicked off the beginning of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner week and our audience was largely made up of Members of Congress and Capitol Hill staffers as well as leaders and staff from the White House. It was a truly remarkable night to behold and each artist passionately advocated for the transparency effort in between performing hit after hit after hit. We have since been blessed to add Chuck D and Method Man to this advocacy mix and each are featured through this current PSA series. Suffice to say, the Power to the Patients movement is growing!
Could you explain the specific issues related to healthcare transparency that the campaign addresses, such as hospitals and insurance companies providing “estimates” rather than “actual prices”? How does this affect patients and the healthcare industry? <combined> Power To The Patients has been advocating for healthcare transparency for some time now. Could you share some of the challenges you’ve faced in this journey and the progress you’ve made so far?
The American healthcare system is not just broken, but it’s intentionally rigged for tremendous profits at the heavy cost and potential devastation of every single person who relies on its services and procedures, which is all of us. Hospitals and Insurance companies have been getting away with hiding their prices so they can prevent consumerism, stifle competition, and completely deflect all accountability for their overcharges and inconsistent billing. We founded Power to the Patients, a non-profit, non-commercial advocacy group, to fight this corporate greed and corruption in order to create a more equitable, accessible, and affordable healthcare system, which will benefit everyone across the nation. In order to achieve this, healthcare price transparency is mandatory across the entire industry. Basically, for healthcare to work fairly in America, hospitals and insurance companies must show us their prices. Without seeing prices up front, hospitals and insurers will continue to charge us whatever they want and there will never be a competitive market to keep prices affordable, honest, or equitable. As Fat Joe has stated, “They’re robbing us.” When you dissect the egregious behavior of hospitals and insurers, including the non-profit and tax-exempt ones, you easily recognize just how deliberately they have created a profit model totally void of decency, responsibility, and ethics for their patients and their communities. It’s impossible to not understand the severity and urgency for price transparency when you realize that medical debt is the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in this country and you hear the countless stories, like we do, from patient after patient fighting for their lives while being issued liens on their homes from hospitals, or the real life impact that rising healthcare costs has on reducing take home pay, the continuous increase of union fees, or people’s outright refusal to seek medical care in the first place. Healthcare in this country is quite literally stomping out the American dream. Demanding prices in healthcare is an effort we all should insist upon because it’s absolutely essential that citizens are provided fair, equitable, and affordable healthcare. Without access and affordability, people suffer immensely, both financially and from deferring necessary procedures associated with health disorders, injuries, and preventative check-ups. Even for those that advocate for Universal healthcare, without price transparency first, healthcare costs will continue to be out of control, irrespective of whether it’s paid by individuals, by employers, or by the government.
When hospitals avoid transparency, they perpetuate a rigged system that eliminates consumerism and competition for patients and their families and stifles fair planning and negotiations for unions, employers and even local, state and federal governments. We need transparency so that we all have the opportunity to compare the prices of services and procedures in order to make logical decisions on where we seek our care. Essentially, we are fighting for decency and basic economic principles for healthcare in America. It, of course, should be totally illegal for hospitals and insurance companies to hide their prices or obfuscate actual prices by using gimmicky terms like “estimates,” or “average prices,” or “percentages of prices.” Those are just meaningless terms to substitute for providing actual prices.
Your efforts in New York City led to the signing of the Healthcare Accountability and Consumer Protection Act. Can you tell us more about the impact of this act and how it serves as a model for other cities or states to improve healthcare transparency?
In June of this year, with Fat Joe in attendance, New York City Mayor Adams, alongside City Council Members, labor union representatives and activists from Power to the Patients, signed into law a hospital price transparency bill, which will require all New York City hospitals to post all of their prices so that people, patients, employers, unions, and even the government itself can finally see and understand hospital prices upfront. This is an incredible development that will absolutely protect New Yorkers from overcharges and price gouging and it will create, for the first time ever, a free market economy like every other industry, where people will be able to decide which hospitals they enter based on prices of services and procedures. The result of this will be lower medical bills, more trust and accountability in the New York healthcare system, and more equitable care across every borough and neighborhood in the city. It’s an enormously positive development and a model we are pushing to replicate in other major metropolitan areas and states across the country. Of course, the most effective development will be to codify consumer protections and price transparency laws in healthcare at the federal level, so we can protect everyone, all at once. And we will accomplish this!
The joint advocacy by Power To The Patients and the hip-hop icons comes after several meetings with lawmakers and visits to The White House. What has been the response from policymakers and elected officials regarding your efforts and concerns about the healthcare system?
Meeting with dozens of Congressional Members at the U.S. Capitol and various leaders at the White House, all the way up to Vice President Harris, has been an unbelievable experience and we have been largely encouraged with the response. Without a doubt, the politicians also enjoyed meeting with such a dynamic personality as Fat Joe and hearing his genuine enthusiasm for price transparency warmed many-a-room. It’s quite clear that there is a groundswell of support for this issue, but the reality is, we are fighting the American healthcare cartel, which currently generates over $4 trillion annually and is very slick at buying the support of many of our elected officials to maintain the existing crooked system. That part is deeply concerning because we have put these officials in place to represent us, and yet, many are so easily compromised. Despite this, we are indeed winning this battle. When Power to the Patients first began in early 2021, only 4% of hospitals in this country complied with the current federal price transparency rules. Today, roughly two years later, thanks to the relentless work by a number of advocacy groups, spirited activists, uncompromised elected officials and an army of concerned citizens including our Hip Hop participants, we are now at 36% of U.S. hospitals complying with the current federal transparency rule. In other words, 36% of hospitals are now posting their prices (data published by Patient Rights Advocate semi-annual report). While we certainly still have a long way to go, that percentage will continue to grow and we won’t stop until we have real price transparency for a more equitable, accessible and affordable healthcare system across the country.