Lawmakers Seek Details Of Obama’s Closed-Door Meetings With Health Industry Groups
"In a rare display of bipartisanship, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he'd help Dr. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) seek information on the names of representatives from the pharmaceutical, device, hospital, doctor, and insurance sectors, who met with White House officials regarding healthcare reform," Medpage Today/ABC News reports. "Waxman and Burgess said they will also request any written materials regarding the 'sum and substance' of any deals made when the individual or groups met with a White House representative, and any 'written materials memorializing any agreements that were provided to outside participants.'" Written communications between Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and industry stakeholders will also be requested (Walker, 1/30).
The New York Times notes that while President Obama has "prominently blamed lobbyists" for stalling the health reform, "what the president did not mention in his [State of the Union] address was that many of those lobbyists actually worked to support his health care overhaul, not oppose it." The Times cites figures from the Center for Responsive Politics: "Health care and insurance lobbyists spent more than $648 million in 2009," but "[t]he lobbying reports do not break down whether an interest group works for or against an issue" (Seelye, 1/30).
Roll Call reports on health care lobbying efforts going forward. "Various groups with a stake in health care reform are now struggling with what their strategy should be to keep health care alive, including whether to continue the expensive broadcast ad wars that have raged during the health care debate" (Roth, 2/1).