Health Groups Top List of Industry Lobbyists in 2010’s Second Quarter
The health care industry spent $267 million on lobbying efforts through the second quarter of 2010 -- more than any other industry -- in hopes of guarding its interests amid challenges to the health reform law, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, the Washington Times reports.
Data on lobbyist spending for the first half of 2010 show that the industry directed 54% of its contributions to Democrats and 46% to Republicans. The sector also spent $91 million toward candidates' midterm election campaigns. However, analysts note that it remains unclear whether physicians, drug companies and hospitals want to preserve or revamp the reform law.
According to CRP, the leading lobbyists in 2009-2010 are:
- The National Community Pharmacists Association;
- The American Dental Association;
- The American Hospital Association; and
- The drugmaker Pfizer.
Wendell Potter -- senior fellow for health care at the Center for Media and Democracy -- said spending on the upcoming elections partially is a continuation of the health reform debate.
He noted that consumers "are actually the ones footing the bill for all this lobbying," adding, "We pay for all of that. It's one of the reasons our premiums keep going up" (Eldridge, Washington Times, 9/26).
Democrats Reinvigorated by Reform Provisions
The first round of provisions under the reform law took effect last week, which could help congressional Democrats in their midterm elections, Roll Call reports (Bendery, Roll Call, 9/27).
- Prohibit insurers from denying coverage to children ages 18 and younger based on pre-existing conditions;
- Forbid insurers from rescinding coverage for technical mistakes made on patient applications;
- End lifetime monetary limits on insurance coverage;
- Allow adult children to remain on their parents' plan until age 26;
- Require insurers to provide certain no-cost preventive services, such as colonoscopies, immunizations and mammograms; and
- Allow consumers to appeal claims decisions through an external review process (California Healthline, 9/23).
The provisions better position Democrats to counter recent GOP arguments against the law's merits, according to Roll Call (Roll Call, 9/27).
GOP Prepares Cuts for Reform Law
Some Republicans are preparing ideas for dismantling the health reform law if they are able to take back the House in the midterm elections. However, a few have privately acknowledged that their ultimate goal -- to repeal the overhaul -- still would be nearly impossible even if they controlled the chamber.
President Obama certainly would veto any legislation aiming to repeal the reform law, and Republicans likely would be unable to secure the two-thirds majority needed to overturn the veto, National Journal reports. Therefore, GOP members are working on an incremental approach to block funding for various provisions in the overhaul bill to weaken it (DoBias, National Journal, 9/25).