Lobbyists Ready for Last Stand to Influence Health Care Reform

October 11, 2009

(ChattahBox)—As the health care reform bills are poised to move towards the legislative process in Congress, health industry lobbyists are making their last stand to try to influence the outcome of the final health care reform bill. The pharmaceutical industry, the hospital industry, powerful health insurers and doctors, as part of the American Medical Association, are all furiously attempting to influence lawmakers.

The Baucus health reform bill is scheduled to be voted upon on Tuesday, before it makes its way to the House floor to become merged with a House bill. Many special interest groups are focused on the provisions of the Baucus bill, which is expected to provide the major framework for a final health care reform bill.

According to a piece in the New York Times on Saturday:

“[T]he last two initiatives with real bite that are still in contention — a scaled-back “Cadillac tax” on high-cost health plans and a nonpartisan Medicare budget-cutting commission — are under furious assault.”

The “Cadillac tax” and the proposed Medicare Commission were created to provide cost-cutting measures and to slow the escalating costs of health insurance. Peter R. Orszag, the White House budget director said, “A key priority now is to make sure cost containment holds up as we move through the legislative process.”

The tax on Cadillac insurance employer plans would impose a 40 percent excise tax on plans that cost more than $8,000 a year for an individual or $21,000 for a family. But this measure has sparked opposition from both labor and business lobbyists.

The proposed Medicare Commission is also under attack from all sides, as the AMA is howling over the deals given to drug companies and hospitals.

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, one of the Medicare Commission’s major sponsors noted that it can’t function as intended, if major industry groups are removed from its reach.

“To work, it has to look at the full picture. There can be no carve-outs for specific provider groups,” wrote Sen. Rockefeller in an email.

Accordingly, the intense opposition from all sides could signal the death knell for the proposed Medicare Commission.

As, the health care reform debate intensifies, it’s hoped that lawmakers remember that the only special interests that should truly matter are those of the American people, whom are in desperate need of good quality and affordable health care.


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