Eight healthcare lobbyists for every member of Congress

Does the healthcare industry really need eight lobbyists for every member of Congress? Apparently so, as 4,525 lobbyists fanned out across Capitol Hill last year, in an effort to influence healthcare reform, according to new data from the Center for Public Integrity, which funds in-depth, investigative journalism.

A total of 1,750 healthcare companies and organizations shelled out $1.2 billion to deploy the massive army of lobbyists, and it resulted in "money well spent," according to the Center's analysis.

"A close look at the health reform bills that passed the House and Senate show lobbyists were apparently effective at blocking provisions like a robust government-run insurance program, and blunting the effect of cost-cutting measures on healthcare companies."

The lobbyists represented the usual suspects you'd expect; hospitals, such as Adventist Health System, HealthSouth, Covenant Healthcare and Geisinger Health System; and insurance companies. Interestingly, lobbyists representing hospitals outnumbered insurance companies by about two-to-one (207 hospitals were represented versus 105 insurance companies).

However, "trade, advocacy, and professional organizations trumped them all with 745 registered groups," the organization reports. AARP, for example, dispatched nearly five dozen lobbyists, while the AMA deployed 33. But some of the groups that paid dearly to have their say were a bit surprising, including Campbell Soup, Dunkin' Donuts, Americans for the Arts, and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

"When President Barack Obama meets with Congressional leadership on Thursday to jump start stalled health reform efforts, industry lobbyists will not be in the room. But if the successful 2009 lobbying effort to influence health reform legislation is any indication, special interests will be well represented,"  the group surmises.

For more information:
- read the Center for Public Integrity's analysis