Insurance Lobbying by Richard L. Tamburello

The number of companies and various organizations that work to put their imprint on legislation is diverse, ranging from health care interests and advocacy groups to giant corporations and small businesses of all types including many insurance companies.

Among the lobbying groups, there are over 200 hospitals and 100 insurance companies which line the halls of Congress to be heard and generate influence. One of the most visible organizations to lobby Congress is AARP.  It has anywhere between 56-60 in-house lobbyists and two from outside firms to work the issue on behalf of its members. The American Medical Association has 33 and 11 professional lobbyists from outside firms.

Influence peddling is big business and Congress loves the attention and the selective influence it generates. Think about it, advocacy groups invest over $3.50 billion for lobbyists to represent them on all kinds of issues, according to the nonprofit group Center for Responsive Politics. And I thought `we the people’ who voted for our elected officials had influence – Yea Right! So what actually happens is that once the votes are counted, our elected officials immediately align themselves with various advocacy groups, lawyers, special interest groups, lobbyists and we, the constituents, are to a large extent, forgotten until the next election.

Insurance lobbyists represent the financial interests of the insurance company industry and the members of Congress supposedly represent their respective constituents. Today, many Americans have become disillusioned with elected officials because politicians are more interested in power, influence and themselves.

The exact amount spent on health reform is difficult to quantify because most health care lobbyists work on other issues and lobby disclosure rules do not require businesses to report how much is paid on each issue.

In conclusion, the AMA succeeded in molding House and Senate bills to make sure cuts would not come out of doctors’ pockets, Wilson said. The AMA helped kill a $300 yearly fee for doctors who participate in Medicare or Medicaid, a tax on cosmetic surgery, 5% Medicare payment cuts to the top 10 percent of Medicare billers and Medicare payment cuts for primary care physicians. Now we hear that many physicians are opposed to the AMA because of recent speculation that the government now wants all physicians to provide it with the once thought `private patient’ data. When will it stop?

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