KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

‘Secret Bill Writing’ And Washington Rumors Are Issues In Health Debate

Transparency in the legislative process is on the decline, The Associated Press reports. "Democrats are refusing to open to the public the end-stage negotiations on how the government is going to change the delivery of health care. And it's not just on the high-profile health care bill; the trend on much legislation is to shut the door and keep the minority party, cable TV and other media on the outside." In the past two decades, since C-SPAN began broadcasting congressional meetings, "leaders from both parties have held fewer and fewer conference meetings, or reduced their significance to photo ops" (Abrams, 1/19).

On the other side of the Hill's transparency issue, attention has turned in recent months to so-called "political intelligence gatherers," Politico reports. These political intelligence gatherers – who track legislative information, but do not advocate -- contributed to a Jan. 6 drop in stock prices for medical lab companies when they reported that Democrats were considering a $750 million annual fee. In truth, the lab fee idea was briefly considered and dropped, but only news of the proposal reached investors, who increasingly rely on these professionals. Some lawmakers are now considering legislation that would require the intelligence gathers to register like lobbyists (Cummings, 1/19).

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