Health Care News From the Campaign Trail for the Week of May 23
The pharmaceutical and some other industries that contributed heavily to President Bush's campaign in the 2004 election cycle have contributed more to Obama and Clinton than to McCain in the current election cycle, Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
The Bush campaign in the 2004 election cycle received $516,839 from pharmaceutical industry employees and political action committees, compared with $280,688 for Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Through the end of March in the current election cycle, pharmaceutical industry employees and PACs contributed:
- $339,729 to Obama;
- $262,870 to Clinton; and
- $74,850 to McCain (Salant, Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/17).
In the current election cycle to date, Democratic candidates have received $7.4 million in campaign contributions from political action committees and individuals associated with pharmaceutical and medical device companies, compared with $7 million for Republican candidates, according to CRP.
During the last six election cycles, pharmaceutical and medical device companies on average contributed twice as much to the campaigns of Republican candidates than Democratic candidates.
As of Feb. 28, reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show that pharmaceutical and medical device companies have contributed:
- $639,124 to Obama;
- $574,828 to Clinton; and
- $168,300 to McCain.
Pfizer, often the largest contributor to campaigns among pharmaceutical companies, in the current election cycle has donated more than $862,000, 52% of which went to the campaigns of Democratic candidates, according to CRP.
Billy Tauzin, CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and former chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the shift in campaign contributions to Democratic candidates has resulted from a new focus on nonpartisanship by the pharmaceutical industry, as well as the increase in the number of Democratic lawmakers.
Former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said that the shift in campaign contributions to Democratic candidates indicates the interest of the pharmaceutical industry in the health care debate (Freking, AP/Miami Herald, 5/22).
McCain does not have cancer after three cases of melanoma, has a "strong heart" and is generally healthy, according to health records dating back to 2000, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports (Neergaard/Sidoti, AP/Houston Chronicle, 5/23). On Friday, a small group of reporters in Phoenix, Ariz., was permitted to view his records and ask his doctors questions during a 90-minute conference call (Zuckerman, Chicago Tribune, 5/23). If McCain were to win the general election, the 71-year-old senator would be the oldest elected U.S. president (AP/Houston Chronicle, 5/23). The records show that McCain:
- Is unlikely to have a shortened lifespan or physical or mental conditions due to his five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam (Brown, Washington Post, 5/23);
- Had his last full physical in March and his last checkup last week;
- Has healthy blood pressure of 134 over 84;
- Has healthy cholesterol of 192;
- Has a healthy weight of 163 pounds for his height of five feet six inches;
- Has no signs of blockages, and a measure of his heart's pumping strength was "very healthy," according to the AP/San Francisco Chronicle; and
- Takes anti-cholesterol drug simvastatin; baby aspirin to prevent heart attacks; hydrochlorothiazide to prevent kidney stones; Claritin as needed for allergies; and sleep medication Ambien as needed for travel (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 5/23).
McCain campaign spokesperson Jill Hazelbaker said McCain was never diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and added that McCain's records include "no psychological material because McCain has not been treated for anything related to that in the time frame of records we are releasing" (Washington Post, 5/23).
- During a speech in Roseburg, Ore., on Saturday, Obama said that McCain "wants to give you the failed Bush health care policies for another four years," the Chicago Tribune reports. Obama added that McCain would "shred" the employer-sponsored health care system and leave U.S. residents to "fend for yourself" in the free market. In response, McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds said that Obama and Clinton would "insert government bureaucracy into your medicine cabinet, while John McCain is committed to keeping America's top-quality doctors and reforming the system so that health care plans would be made available, accessible and affordable for families" (Tankersley, Chicago Tribune, 5/18).