Lobbying Efforts Heat Up On Health Care
Special interest groups of many stripes are stepping up lobbying efforts and spending millions to shape health legislation.
CNN reports: "The amount of money lobbyists are spending on health care reform could break records, and now that the five bills before Congress have cleared committee, that spending is expected to go into overdrive. 'It is sort of a Super Bowl of lobbying for health care reform. The lobbyists are winning so far. But the game's not over yet,' said Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee."
"Members of Congress feel they're getting slimed. ... The health care sector has spent $263 million this year lobbying Congress for changes to reform plans, a government watchdog group estimates. ... There are more than 3,000 people registered to lobby about health care, almost six lobbyists for every member of Congress. ... Some top Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are swinging back at the insurance industry. Reid testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, asking them to repeal an antitrust law that has given certain protections to the insurance industry" (Acosta, 10/15).
Politico reports on the White House and health lobbying: "At a meeting last April with corporate lobbyists, aides to President Barack Obama and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) helped set in motion a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, primarily financed by industry groups, that has played a key role in bolstering public support for health care reform. ... The result has been a somewhat unlikely alliance between an administration that came into power criticizing George W. Bush for his closeness to Big Business and groups such as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the American Medical Association."
"The previously undisclosed meeting April 15 at the offices of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee led to the creation of two groups - Americans for Stable Quality Care and a now-defunct predecessor group called Healthy Economy Now - that have spent tens of millions of dollars on TV advertising supporting health reform efforts" (Smith and Vogel, 10/16).
The Center for Public Integrity reports on how just one person can have influence: Raymond Ruddy, a conservative Catholic multimillionaire who runs a pro-life charity in Massachusetts and has spent more than $1.5 million since 2002. "During the first two quarters of this year's health care reform debate, Ruddy spent $130,000 of his own money on the influential Washington lobby firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers, now known as BGR Group, to push federal abstinence-only sex education funding, according to Senate public records."
"The lone wolf strategy appears to be is paying off - so far, anyway. In late September, the Senate Finance Committee approved an amendment to its health care bill from Utah Republican Orrin Hatch that would reinstate $50 million in annual funding to abstinence-only programs. Earlier this year, President Obama removed funding for the programs from his budget" (Eaton, 10/14).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.