Lobbying Is Up As Health Industry Examines Impact Of Reform Proposals
USA Today: "Companies and groups hiring lobbying firms on health issues nearly doubled this year as special interests rushed to shape the massive revamp of the nation's health care system now in its final stretch before Congress." As many as 1,000 groups "have hired lobbyists since January, compared with 505 during the same period in 2008, according to a USA TODAY analysis of congressional records compiled by the nonpartisan CQ MoneyLine." They have also spent $422 million during the first nine months of the year - a 10 percent jump from 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Even a non-profit hospital in Wallingford, Conn., will spend $50,000 on lobbying to avoid losing Medicare payments, according to a hospital official, USA Today reports (Schouten, 11/23).
New outlets provide other examples of organizations and interests stepping up their presence in the debate.
Politico: Catholic Bishops are looking for a future in lobbying as they find their voice on health care reform and abortion, . "Success in the House came after the church ran a classic lobbying operation (on abortion): deploying paid staff to Capitol Hill But it remains to be seen if the bishops can have the same results as the broader health bill moves forward or on more complex life issues such as embryonic stem cell research." The three places that the bishops have tried to influence legislation in the health care debate include abortion, religious conscience clauses and immigrants (Cummings, 11/23).
The New York Times: Union-backed groups are placing pressure on House Democrats who represent New York and New Jersey. "The organizations - including the Communications Workers of America and the Working Families Party - say they are disappointed that these lawmakers voted against the bill approved by the House this month" and the groups left open the possibility that they could withhold support or work against candidates who don't back a final health care reform bill (Hernandez, 11/22).
Roll Call: The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America is continuing its funding of an advertising blitz to promote health reform through the group, Americans for Stable Quality Care. It is targeting senators in states such as Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota and South Dakota. "'They're the only show in town left on the pro-reform side,' a health care consultant said of the 23-member coalition that has spent $30 million so far on advertising - and could spend twice that by the time a bill reaches President Barack Obama's desk" (Murray, 11/23).
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports that Humana's CEO Mike McCallister is keeping a close eye on the health care reform proceedings. "McCallister says that to adapt to the shifting health care landscape Humana is eyeing acquisitions in complementary areas, like managing spending on expensive specialty drugs and chronic diseases such as diabetes. He's also pursuing a $200 million cost-cutting initiative." He also said he is for health care reform, if done right (Johnson, 11/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.