LOBBYING: Groups Will Spend Millions on Ads This Summer
With patients' rights, Medicare reform and a Medicare drug benefit all in play legislatively, it is "shaping up to be a health care summer for Washington lobbyists," the Washington Post reports. Interest groups are expected to use "all the techniques of 21st century lobbying," including voter education campaigns in key primary states, advertising and polling and political contributions. Businesses and health plans are spending $750,000 to flood the airwaves in a campaign against the Democrats' "Patients' Bill of Rights." The ads will be targeted at GOP senators up for re-election in an attempt to "make sure they ... do the right thing," in the words of one business lobbyist. In ads beginning this week, the Health Benefits Coalition -- made up of large businesses, the Health Insurance Association of America and Aetna U.S. Healthcare Corp. -- will air radio ads targeted at GOP Sens. Kay Baily Hutchison (TX) and Slade Gorton (WA) that urge listeners to tell their senator that "you're counting on him to protect your health insurance from Ted Kennedy's Patients' Bill of Rights." Television ads from the Business Roundtable will be aimed at GOP Sens. Spencer Abraham (MI), Mike DeWine (OH) and Rod Grams (MN). Additionally, the American Association of Health Plans will "kick off a national ad campaign featuring a construction worker angry at politicians for increasing his health care costs," and the managed care-led Coalition for Affordable Quality Health Care will reportedly spend $9 million to refurbish the tarnished image of HMOs. The American Medical Association is expected to counter business and insurance groups' effort to block HMO liability and fight for physician unionization; and the AARP will likely face off against the pharmaceutical industry over a Medicare prescription benefit. And still in the hunt is the American Hospital Association, which will fight to reverse Medicare reimbursement cuts from the 1997 Balanced Budget Act (Morgan, 7/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.