A public policy think tank says that 14 health care insurers and their trade group spent $15.5 million in first half of 2009 to influence the national debate on health care reform.

That spending represents an increase of 25% over previous years, asserts the report by the Public Campaign Action Fund, Washington.

The study examined campaign contributions by company political action committees and employees as well as lobbying costs for the 14 largest health insurance companies.

It also included lobbying expenses and employee campaign contributions from America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington. All told, AHIP spent $3.9 million so far this year in lobbying expenses, PCAF says.