Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why we won't get real healthcare reform until we reform our campaign funding system

Sickening Amounts of Healthcare Lobbying | Center for Media and Democracy

The healthcare industry is waging a "record-breaking influence campaign," spending "more than $1.4 million a day on lobbying," reports the Washington Post. "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" spent in just three months. Among the lobbyists are many former Congressional staffers and even former members of Congress, including Dick Armey and Richard Gephardt. The impact is illustrated by a recent meeting in the office of Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus, which "included two former Baucus chiefs of staff: David Castagnetti, whose clients include PhRMA and America's Health Insurance Plans, and Jeffrey A. Forbes, who represents PhRMA, Amgen, Genentech, Merck and others." The Post "identified more than 350 former government aides, each representing an average of four firms or trade groups." PhRMA leads "the pack in spending and employs 49 former government staff members among its 136 lobbyists." Many of the major lobbyists "remain opposed to the public-insurance option" supported by the Obama administration. PhRMA's head, former Congressman Billy Tauzin, finds the Congress-drug industry revolving door "pretty normal." He asked, "Is it a distortion of baseball to hire coaches who have played baseball?"

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