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Pharmaceutical firms top the list.

Pharmaceutical companies spend more money lobbying Congress than other health care organizations, according to a study from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland. Meanwhile, lobbying by physicians lagged behind, suggesting a decline in their political influence. By reviewing reports required by the Lobbying Disclosure Act, investigators found that health care lobbying expenditures totaled $237,000,000 in 2000. This was more than the lobbying expenditures of every other industry, including agriculture, communications, and defense, thus highlighting the importance of health care issues to a broad range of interest groups.

Among health care organizations, drug companies spent the most ($96,000,000), followed by physicians and other health professionals ($46,000,000). Hospitals and nursing homes outlayed $40,000,000, while health insurance and managed care groups put up $31,000,000. Disease advocacy and public health concerns expended $12,000,000.

Lobbying by physicians and other health professionals grew more slowly than that by other organizations (10 vs. 32%). According to the study's author, Steven Landers of the School of Medicine, this finding may indicate a decline in the political influence of physicians. "The input of physicians is essential at a time of growing concern and debate about the cost of prescription drugs, the influence of pharmaceutical marketing on patients and physicians, and access to health care for the uninsured," he contends.

"In a previous study," adds co-author Ashwini Sehgal, "legislators said they want more input from physicians about public health issues. Physicians should use the credibility they have with the public and with legislators to offset the deep pockets of drug companies."

The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 requires lobbyists at the Federal level, including Congress, the White House, and all agencies, to submit biannual reports describing the organization they lobbied for and the amount spent on lobbying activities. However, the lobbying reports do not specify the legislation discussed or the positions advocated by lobbyists. Thus, it is not possible to determine the extent to which health policy decisions were affected by lobbying. The Act could be strengthened by requiring more detailed reporting, maintain the authors.

Health care organizations lobby lawmakers in order to influence health policy decisions. Such decisions affect virtually all aspects of health care, including compensation for goods and services, licensing and oversight, and research priorities. The investigators found that a total of 1,192 organizations were involved in health care lobbying. Individual organizations with the highest lobbying expenditures include the American Medical Association ($17,000,000), American Hospital Association ($10,000,000), Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, Schering Corporation, and Health Insurance Association of America ($7,000,000 apiece), Blue Cross/Blue Shield ($6,000,000), and Eli Lilly & Company ($5,000,000).
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Title Annotation:Health Care Lobbies
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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