Monday, September 21, 2009

Health reform's 'gang of 6' reaps political cash

The bipartisan "gang of six" senators who helped craft the health care reform bill going before a key Senate committee Tuesday represent less than 3 percent of the U.S. population - but they hold a lot of power at a crucial policy-shaping moment in Congress.
Three Republican and three Democratic senators in the group, all of them members of the Senate Finance Committee, received an average of $74,600 from health industry lobbyists, according to The Chronicle's analysis of records through June.

That is about 25 percent more than the average of $59,632 in such donations that the gang's other Senate colleagues raked in from lobbyists for the pharmaceutical, hospital, insurance and nursing home industries, according to the analysis, which was based on records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit watchdog group.

"Money buys access," said Henry Brady, a professor of public policy and dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.
Six Senate Finance Committee members who negotiated a health reform plan that goes before the committee Tuesday represent about 3 percent of the nation's population but received 25 percent more in campaign funds from health care interests than their Senate colleagues through June 30.
  • Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa - $223,600
  • Max Baucus, D-Mont. - $141,000
  • Kent Conrad, D-N.D. - $51,000
  • Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. - $18,000
  • Olympia Snowe, R-Maine - $9,000
  • Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. - $5,000

Read it all at the San Francisco Chronicle.

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