POLICY: Health care lobbyists pay up, get their money’s worth

In a recent study originally in JAMA, it was shown that health care companies put $237m into lobbying in the year 2000. 2000 was you may recall the year of a somewhat controversial and close election. Of the money

    Drug companies and medical supply companies together spent $96m. Physicians and other health professionals, such as nurses, spent $46m, hospitals and nursing homes $40m, health insurance and managed care companies $31m, and disease advocacy and public health organizations spent $12m. During the study period, 1997-2000, spending on lobbying by health professionals grew by only 10% compared with 26% by other organizations.

Given that the recent Medicare bill returned big increases in Medicare fees (or at least overturned planned reductions) for both physicians and hospitals, increased Medicare payments for health plans, and of course added billions in potential new government revenue to pharma companies, I’d say the money was well spent.

OK, so that’s cynical, but the current state of US campaign and electoral financing is that all politicians need money, mostly for TV advertising. Those who contribute get their issues heard. And the health care industry is merely doing the logical thing.

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