Health care industry spends millions lobbying Congress

The health insurance industry, pharmaceutical companies, and physician job-trusts are spending millions to influence the health care reform package being cobbled together in Washington, D.C. The July 6 Washington Post reports that these groups have hired more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress to lobby key congressional committees and legislators. The Post estimates that the health care industry is spending $1.4 million a day to lobby Congress on the health care reform package. The paper reports that “the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) doubled its spending to nearly $7 million in the first quarter of 2009, followed by Pfizer, with more than $6 million.”

The lobbying effort has had its effect. Clearly the owners of these industries want to minimize their costs in any reform of the health care system while maximizing their access to some 46 million uninsured potentially new customers. The two main health care reform bills being discussed in the Senate’s Finance Committee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee both ensure increased access to the uninsured while limiting the costs to the insurance industry — for example, by providing government subsidies to individuals to pay for private insurance.

Minority communities have no real voice in this discussion. The needs of African Americans, Latinos, and other racial and ethnic minorities will be ignored as Congress forges its health care package.

Monday, July 6th, 2009 at 15:47