Healthcare reform profited lobbying firms

by Emily P. Walker

In the postgame wrap-up on healthcare reform, analysts say the big winners are lobbyists, who managed to earn record amounts during the more than year-long battle.

About 1,750 businesses and organizations spent $1.2 billion in 2009 to lobby for their positions on healthcare reform and other legislative issues, according to a new study from the Center for Public Integrity (CPI).

An exact breakdown of how much money lobbyists made specifically on healthcare reform isn’t available because they aren’t required to itemize the amount spent on each policy issue. But researchers with CPI estimated that if just 10% of all lobby spending went toward healthcare, that would total $120 million, which could well be a record for the amount of money spent on a single issue in one year.

The largest lobbying shop on K Street, Patton Boggs, represented more clients on healthcare issues than any other firm — 53, according to CPI. The firm received $7.68 million from clients that included Bristol-Myers Squibb for lobbying on healthcare and other issues.

The only lobbyist willing to speak on the record, a partner at Foley Hoag, told CPI that the majority of the firm’s heatlhcare clients — 32 in all — were pharmaceutical companies. They included Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Merck, and Amgen. According to the CPI report, which was based on an analysis of Senate lobby disclosure documents, clients spent $4,064,500 on healthcare and other issues

Ken Gross, a Washington lawyer and lobbying expert, told CPI that he thinks the amount of money spent on healthcare reform is unprecedented.

“First of all, [the debate] went on for so long,” Gross told CPI. “Second of all, it was high-stakes poker. It stands to reason that it would be a record-breaker.”

Emily P. Walker is a MedPage Today Washington Correspondent.

Originally published in MedPage Today. Visit for more health policy news.


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