You and I both knew health insurance firms would do everything in their power to protect their interests by working to influence Congress when it comes to health care reform – or perhaps I should say “spare no expense.”
According to a recent Washington Post article, three of every four major health care firms have at least one former insider on their lobbying payrolls, part of a record-breaking influence campaign by the health care industry. The Washington Post reports the industry is spending more than $1.4 million per day on lobbying during the health care debate.
More than 350 of these insiders, including former members of Congress Richard Armey, R-Texas, and Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., who are both on the payroll of a New Jersey-based pharmaceutical firm, are working to influence old colleagues and bosses. Nearly half of those 350 previously worked for key committees and lawmakers, including Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont. and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is the architect of one of the bills that, with some modifications, is most likely to make it to President Obama’s desk. Grassley is the senior Republican on the Finance Committee and has worked closely with Baucus to design a bill that would gain at least some Republican support. Grassley is also an opponent of Obama’s plan to let a government plan compete with private plans.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) doubled its spending on lobbyists to nearly $7 million in the first quarter of 2009 while Pfizer spent more than $6 million.
It will be interesting to see if they end up getting their money’s worth – or much more.