Lobbying, Ads Slow Down On Health Reform
"Drugmakers, business organizations and other interest groups in the health care battle have dialed down expensive lobbying campaigns as they assess how last month's stunning Republican capture of a Senate seat from Massachusetts has altered Washington's political landscape...," The Associated Press reports. "Absent evidence that Obama and Democratic leaders are willing to aggressively revive the health package, some question whether they should push hard for a stalled measure that may never become law if all that achieves is annoying Republicans." But lobbyists are watching closely to see if a bill can be revived, "and even a small version could have an enormous impact." Medical interests spent $505 million lobbying in 2009 (Fram, 2/2).
The Hill: "Lobbyists and other healthcare industry sources said they remain largely in a wait-and-see stance while Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the White House try to sort out a way to move forward on healthcare. The biggest risk facing healthcare industries is that the hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare cuts from the reform bill will survive even if reform itself does not." Although some groups, such as hospitals and drugmakers, had agreed to those cuts in return for the promise of new customers, they now fear that new efforts to trim the deficit could result in those same reductions without an expansion of people with insurance. Lobbyists are busy trying to figure out the best way forward (Young, 2/2).
USA Today's OnPolitics blog: "At the peak of the health care debate, groups were spending about $1 million a day (on advertising), according to Evan Tracey, who tracks political advertising for the Campaign Media Analysis Group. These days, Tracey tells USA TODAY, the rate of spending has fallen to about $1 million a week." In the meantime, much of the focus in Congress has shifted to jobs, the deficit and the economy (Fritze, 2/2).
CBS News reports that Conservatives for Patients' Rights, a group led by former hospital executive Rick Scott, is claiming victory over the public option in health care. In a full-page ad in the Washington Post Wednesday, the group pronounces the death of the public option: "'In his State of the Union Address, the President didn't doom his Public Option health care plan with faint praise, he simply buried it with deafening silence,' the ad reads. Progressives in Congress are not giving up on the public option, however. According to Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)'s office, more than 110 members of Congress have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid encouraging the Senate to take up the public option through a process called reconciliation, which only requires 51 votes for approval" (Condon, 2/2).