At critical stage, lobbyist spending may play key role

Depending on how you look at politics, this may or may not be a bad thing, but the fact remains: the five Senators who will run the floor debate on the reform bill have enjoyed some very substantial contributions from healthcare interests.

For example, political action committees run by Schering-Plough and Amgen were top contributors to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) for two of the past five years, USA Today notes. Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, is one of the three senators handling the reform bill for the Dems, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. All told, healthcare interests contributed $2.5 million to his fundraising committees since 2005, the Center reports.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Finance Committee, also has received large contributions from healthcare interests, including the Amgen PAC. All told, he received more than $1.3 million from health interests.

When you include non-healthcare interests, companies are on track to spend more than $3.3 billion on lobbyists this year, the Center reports.

To learn more about the state of lobbying on the Hill:
- read this Kaiser Health News piece

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Health lobbying explodes in 2009
GOP protests rules barring health plans from lobbying seniors 
Healthcare lobbying spend second only to financial services