Boston Globe Examines Role of Lobbyists in Medicare Vote
The third part of a three-part Boston Globe series on the practices of the 108th Congress on Tuesday examined the passage of the new Medicare law -- "just one small example of how the Washington spoils system went into overdrive as Republicans and Democrats alike sought to build support for the bill while also taking care of their home states and special-interest groups that mounted an enormous lobbying drive." A Globe analysis found that pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, health insurers and other health care companies and trade associations spent $311 million to lobby lawmakers on the Medicare legislation and other bills, and lawmakers "occupying key committees gathered hundreds of thousands of dollars" in campaign contributions from the health care industry. Republican leaders negotiated the final details of the Medicare law "behind closed doors in the joint House-Senate conference committee, ... with heavy-hitting members of Congress determining who got what," the Globe reports.
The removal of five of the seven Democrats named to the committee from discussions "cleared the way for negotiations on one of the most costly and controversial provisions of the Medicare bill: more money for private health plans," the Globe reports. According to the Globe, "Republican efforts to enhance Medicare rates for insurance plans have come at a great cost." The Globe also examined how the health care industry lobbyists affected provisions in the Medicare law included to help hospitals in rural areas (Rowland, Boston Globe, 10/5).