Despite the ongoing economic recession, lobbying is one industry that is booming. Spending by interest groups in Washington, D.C., has skyrocketed in the second quarter of 2009. The reason? To try to influence the debate over health care reform legislation that is working its way through Congress. Legislators are considering proposals to rein in health care costs, to expand coverage, and to improve care, and numerous different groups have much at stake in the outcome. After all, the health care industry represents about one-sixth of the U.S. economy. Lobbyists for the industry have positioned themselves to protect their clients’ bottom-line interests and to help shape the changes to the health care system that would affect them most.
Hundreds of lobbyists are jamming the halls of the Capitol. The combined spending by lobbyists for drug manufacturers, doctors and hospitals, and insurance companies has topped $133 million, according to filings with a Senate office that keeps such records. Pharmaceutical companies spent more than any other health care organizations to influence lawmakers. Besides money spent directly to support lobbyists’ efforts, there has been a surge in campaign donations from health care interests, as well as ad campaigns aimed at promoting, or opposing, specific aspects of the proposed reforms. Even groups that might seem to have little stake in a debate over health care are involved. For example, the American Beverage Association, which lobbies on behalf of soft drink makers, has been fighting proposals that would tax sodas to pay for health care.
- Dollars Chase Influence in U.S. Healthcare Debate
This Reuters article analyzes spending by interest groups aimed at influencing the debate in Congress over health care reform.
(Source: Reuters, July 30, 2009)
- Lobbying Increases as Health Care Debate Intensifies
This blog from the
New York Times discusses increases in lobbyist spending as congressional debate on health care reform picks up.
(Source: New York Times, July 21, 2009)
- Insurers Say Democratic “Villain” Comments Hurtful to Process
This Kaiser Health News summary of recent stories about the intersection of lobbying and health care reform legislation includes links to a broad range of other current news on the topic of health care policy.
(Source: Kaiser Health News, August 5, 2009)
- Tracking the Money in the Health Care Debate
Story from National Public Radio covering the convergence of big-spending lobbyists around the health care debates in Congress.
(Source: NPR, June 25, 2009)
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