Ratio Of Health Lobbyists To Lawmakers Tops 6:1
"If there is any doubt that President Barack Obama's plan to overhaul U.S. health care is the hottest topic in Congress, just ask the 3,300 lobbyists who have lined up to work on the issue," Bloomberg reports, noting that the number amounts to six lobbyists for each member of Congress. In all, more than 1,500 different organizations have registered to lobby about health care issues, and about three more sign up each day. The groups had spent $263.4 million on their efforts in the first half of 2009.
"Whenever you have a big piece of legislation like this, it's like ringing the dinner bell for K Street," Bill Allison, of the Sunlight Foundation told Bloomberg. Lobbying groups include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which opposes a government-run plan, drug makers like Amgen and Pfizer, insurers such as Cigna, and companies in other sectors, like Wal-Mart. Not all the spending reflects lobbying efforts by commercial interests. "Health- care advocates have spent $53 million on commercials," Bloomberg reports (Salant and O'Leary, 8/14).
Yesterday, a $12 million advertising campaign launched to support health care overhaul, the Associated Press/Boston Globe reports. The sponsors of the campaign represent an unlikely coalition of health care industry interests and advocacy and labor groups called "Americans for Stable Quality Care." The group includes PhRMA, the American Medical Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, FamiliesUSA, and the Service Employees International Union. "Notably, the coalition does not include the insurance industry, which has been increasingly cast by Obama and Democrats as the bad guy in the debate" (8/14).
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Times reports that "An $80-billion deal with the drug industry that the White House thought would add momentum to its campaign for national healthcare reform has instead provoked a political tempest, frustrating and bewildering some of the president's most important allies." The deal calls for industry to produce $80 billion in savings over 10 years and promote reform in advertisements if the industry losses were capped at the $80 billion.
The Times adds that the White House also agreed "not to require rebates on sales of commonly prescribed drugs to patients enrolled jointly in Medicaid and Medicare. ... Since the agreement was announced June 20 -- with President Obama saying, 'We are at a turning point in America's journey toward healthcare reform' -- critics from the left and right have criticized the accord. Business and conservative interests are angry that one of their most important traditional allies -- PhRMA -- is now working with Democrats to build support for the president's plan. Liberals say Obama gave away too much to the industry" (Hamburger, 8/14).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.