Thursday, June 25, 2009

Under The Influence -- Health Industry Lobbying Tops $1.4 Million Daily

By Eliza Krigman at National Journal Online

In a new report released today, the government watchdog group Common Cause found that major health care interests have spent upwards of $1.4 million a day to lobby Capitol Hill so far this year.

According to the report, entitled 'legislating under the influence,' political spending by the health industries has increased 73 percent since 2000. Health interests contributed $94 million to candidates in Congress during the 2008 election cycle, a $40 million jump from the 2000 election cycle figure.

The top recipients of health industry campaign contributions from 2000 to 2008 are new Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter, Pa., and Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., at $7.3 million and $6.3 million respectively. All of the campaign finance data used in the report came from the Center for Responsive Politics.

With the health industry's tremendous financial clout in Washington, Common Cause is concerned that chances for meaningful reform will be stymied. The report concludes that members of Congress face a disheartening conflict of interest: side with their large campaign donors or back reform measures that have support from the public, like the public plan option which would create a publicly-funded health insurance entity to compete with private insurers.

Click here for report [PDF].

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