//Bayer Group spent $2.5 million over the past three months, up from $1.8 million in the second quarter, a move a spokeswoman attributed to the company's diverse interests in the health field.//
October 21, 2009 Washington Times
Health debate stimulates lobbyists
Millions spent to sway reform
By Jennifer Haberkorn
As lawmakers considered last month taxing medical device makers to help pay for health care reform, a small army of lobbyists mobilized against the measure.
They were backed by corporate lobbying budgets that have ballooned since the beginning of the year.
The effort seemingly paid off as the device manufacturers, who make things such as X-ray machines, artificial limbs and bandages, won a significant change - an exemption from the tax for products under $100. They are certainly not the only ones.
Insurers, drug companies and trade associations continue to pour millions into lobbying Congress and airing television advertising for or against proposals within the health care reform debate. Many times during the reform debate, groups have found themselves facing the prospect of a new tax. So they lobby to keep the debate going until they can shift the cost to another sector.
Over the first six months of 2009, health care companies and trade groups spent $263.6 million on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington groups that tracks political spending.
"One of the things about big legislation is that it's almost like El Dorado on the Potomac - everybody is mining gold," said Bill Allison, editorial director at the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington watchdog group. "It's definitely been a big bill with a lot of attention."
Many health companies and trade groups, such as America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), AARP and Baxter International, increased their lobbying budgets during the third quarter of the year, according to federal reports the companies filed Tuesday.
Some of the largest increases since the second quarter came from medical device companies, led by their trade group, the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed).
Bayer Group spent $2.5 million over the past three months, up from $1.8 million in the second quarter, a move a spokeswoman attributed to the company's diverse interests in the health field. AdvaMed spent $610,000 during the quarter, up from $380,000 in the previous quarter. The group declined to comment on the increase, but has been vocal in its opposition to the medical device tax.
Health-related trade groups led the spending during the third quarter and much of the year, though their filings did not break down how much was spent on each of their legislative issues.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) spent $6.8 million; the seniors lobby AARP spent $5.7 million; the American Medical Association spent nearly $4 million; and AHIP spent $2.1 million.
Said PhRMA spokesman Ken Johnson, "Making certain that every single American has access in the future to high-quality health care coverage and services has been our top priority this year, and that single-minded focus is reflected in the amount of money we have spent on both lobbying and advertising."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent nearly $35 million on the health debate and other issues.
"To the extent that any issue or legislative debate will impact job and economic growth, we're heavily engaged," said Tita Freeman, a spokeswoman for the chamber.
However, some health care companies, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and Eli Lilly, reduced their spending in the third quarter after a significant spike over the summer.
Health care companies and advocacy coalitions have spent another $130 million on television advertising during the health care reform debate, according to Campaign Media Analysis Group, an Arlington company that measures political ads.
Chief Operating Officer Evan Tracey expects that figure to climb another $50 million to $100 million by the end of the health debate, depending on how the fight evolves.