Healthcare Lobbyists Research Paper

Pages: 5 (1614 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Healthcare

Healthcare Lobbyists

Drugmakers, hospitals and insurers poured millions of dollars into lobbying during 2009 hoping to limit the damage to their bottom line as lawmakers and the Obama administration wrangled over landmark health-care legislation. Disclosure reports that were given to Congress have shown familiar players at the top of the health-care influence heap, including $6.2 million in lobbying by the leading Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and $4 million by the American Medical Association (Eggen, 2009).

Many health companies and associations have increased their lobbying expenditures over the last year. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association increased its lobbying expenditures by a full million, to 2.8 million dollars during the second quarter of 2009; GlaxoSmithKline's spending jumped from $1.8 million to $2.3 million; Novartis grew from $1.4 million to $1.8 million; and Metlife Group reported $1.7 million, which was up nearly 50%. Allstate spent less than $900,000 on lobbying through March of last year, but then increased its spending to more than $1.5 million from April to June (Eggen, 2009).

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Others that have simply kept up the pace include Johnson & Johnson at $1.6 million and America's Health Insurance Plans along with Bayer Corp. who have both approached $2 million. The AMA spent a total of $8.2 million on lobbying through the first half of 2009. The industry set records from January to March, when health-care firms and their lobbyists spent money at the rate of $1.4 million a day Eggen, 2009).

Research Paper on Healthcare Lobbyists Assignment

The large spenders include drug companies, hospitals and doctor groups along with organizations that advocate for unions, immigrants and retirees. The biggest chunk often goes to direct lobbying of lawmakers and other policymakers. As reported by the Center for Responsive Politics the health care industry spent nearly $280 million on lobbyists in the first half of 2009. In addition another $75 million was spent on television advertising airtime by health care interests, mostly politically left-leaning groups and health industries. Another $23 million has come from the health care sector into the campaigns of several 2010 candidates for federal office (Liberto, 2009)

Part of the reason that so much money is being spent is that so many different types of groups and companies could be affected by health care reform. Business models could be upended for everything from urgent care clinics to providers of electronic medical records. Lobbyists have been hired by groups that range from the College of American Pathologists, which spent $775,717 on lobbying last year, to the prestigious University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, which spent $220,000. The other reason for the big bucks being spent is because of the duration of the debate. Every week millions more are spent trying to influence the negotiations (Liberto, 2009)

Richard Umbdenstock, who heads the American Hospital Association, spent $7 million on lobbying last year and made seven White House visits in order to talk to staffers. Other supporters that have made White House visits include the head of the lobbing group for drug makers, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and the head of the health insurance lobbying group, America's Health Insurance Plans. Health care was once thought of as a personal issue that addressed the issues of individual Americans, but now because of lobbyists it also addresses the concerns of the drug and insurance industry as well. Lobbying and advertising is guaranteed by the Constitution (Liberto, 2009)

Lobbyists are demonstrating their clout in influencing Obama's progressive healthcare agenda everyday in the halls of Congress. Lobbying efforts went against the legislative route for single-payer from the beginning, and have since succeeded in challenging a government-run insurance program to compete with the private sector (Whatley, 2009). On the other side the American people are also competing with the lobbyists in regards to healthcare reform. The American people are now contending with a giant cash machine that pumps over a million dollars a day into preventing a public healthcare option from ever becoming a reality. "According to the most recent CBS/New York Times poll, 72% of Americans want a government-run healthcare system, and yet those Americans don't have the reach and access bought by the private healthcare industry" (Kilkenny, 2009).

Ever since 2005, the health lobby has given almost $28 million to several members of Congress. The amount of money that is being funneled from big-business health interests to members of Congress is staggering, but not surprising. The following are the top money getters:

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), received over $2.5 million in contributions with $777,113 from the pharmaceutical/health products sector alone

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), received over $2.2 million, $802,500 of which came from doctors along with other medical professionals and their trade associations

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), received nearly $2 million, $483,750 of which came from the insurance, HMO and health services industries

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), received almost $1.9 million, of which $572,237 was contributed by hospitals and nursing homes

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), has received over $1.8 million, and like Sen. McConnell, received a large portion of that from health professionals (BREAKING: Health care lobby invests in reform summit, 2010).

The Center for Public Integrity did an analysis of Senate lobbying disclosure forms that showed that more than 1,750 companies and organizations hired about 4,525 lobbyists or eight for each member of Congress, to influence health reform bills in 2009. The list of companies and organizations that worked to influence legislation is diverse. They range from health care interests and advocacy groups to giant corporations, small businesses, American Indian tribes, religious groups, and universities. Included in this group were 207 hospitals that lined up to lobby, followed by 105 insurance companies and 85 manufacturing companies. Trade, advocacy, and professional organizations outdid them all with 745 registered groups that lobbied on health reform bills. This is a great illustration of the Washington strategy of special interests banding together in order to pool money and increase their influence (Eaton and Pell, 2010).

One of the most visible organizations in the halls of Congress is the AARP. They organized 56 in-house lobbyists and two from outside firms to work the issue on behalf of its members. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent 47 lobbyists, all but eight from outside firms. The corporate leaders who direct the Business Roundtable deployed 40, five from outside firms, and the American Medical Association had 33, 11 from outside firms. The data also shows that the roster of groups trying to mold legislation went far beyond corporate and health care interests to include such unlikely entities as Americans for the Arts, and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (Eaton and Pell, 2010).

In spite of the recession, 2009 was a big year for influencing with business and advocacy groups shelling out $3.47 billion for lobbyists to stand up for them on all kinds of issues. A lot of that money went to fight the health reform fight. The businesses and organizations that lobbied on healthcare reform spent more than $1.2 billion on their overall lobbying efforts. The exact amount that they spent on health reform is difficult to put a number on because most health care lobbyists also worked on other issues, and lobby disclosure rules do not require businesses to report how much they paid on each issue. From an industry perspective, it was money well spent. A close look at both versions of the health reform bills that passed the House and Senate show that lobbyists were apparently effective at blocking certain provisions like a robust government-run insurance program, and dulling the effect of cost-cutting measures on health care companies (Eaton and Pell, 2010).

The AMA succeeded in molding House and Senate bills in order to make sure cuts would not come out of doctors' pockets. The AMA helped stop a $300 yearly fee for doctors… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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