Jul 6, 2009

Health Care Industry Spends $1.4 Million a Day on Lobbying

$9,236.11. That's the amount of money that the health care industry spent on lobbying in the time it took me to listen to a Bruce Springsteen song this morning.*

In the time it took for me to write this blog post, the for-profit health care industry spent $43,750. That's about 15 minutes, and the amount is more than the average person, the kind of person that health care reform might really benefit, makes in a year.

Reading the Washington Post on the bus on the way to work this morning, I was shocked to see how much money the health care industry is spending on lobbyists: $1.4 million a day.**

For those of you keeping track: 12 minute bus ride = $35,000 spent by the health care industry on lobbying.

Most of this money is going to Capitol Hill insiders: persons with legislative or administrative experience working for members of Congress or former members of Congress themselves. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) spent $7 million in the first quarter of 2009. Pfizer spent $6 million in the same time period.

In Washington, people are used to industries throwing money around. It is a fact of daily life. But this amount is beyond anything that anyone has ever seen before. The oil industry, for example, spent record amounts in the first quarter of this year: an average of $49,444 a day.

That's right. The health care industry is spending almost a million dollars a day more than the oil industry.

These folks gave money during the campaign cycle too. And when the health care industry gave a lot of money to a Senator, they became less likely to be supportive of a public option. This isn't an accusation, either. This is statistically verified.

The people who are throwing massive amounts of cash around Washington are not the same people who would benefit from there being a public option for health insurance. According to the Post article:

"The aim of the lobbying blitz is simple: to minimize the damage to insurers, hospitals and other major sectors while maximizing the potential of up to 46 million uninsured Americans as new customers."

The aim is not in keeping with the desires of the American people. 72 percent of Americans want a public option for health care. And the desire of the people and the desires of the big pockets are not in line.

So what's more important, people's health or insurance company profits? If the money going to lobbyists has anything to do with it, profits are going to take priority.

*Used Cars off of 1982's Nebraska, which clocks at three minutes and ten seconds. The opinion that this is the best of Springsteen's albums is my own.

**Calculations in this blog post are based on an 8 hour day.

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