Roll Call has crunched the numbers and come up with a truly eye-popping figure of $876 million spent by medical interests lobbying Congress during the health care fight:
Medical interests alone shelled out more than $876 million in lobbying expenses during the 15 months beginning in January 2009 and ending in March, when Congress passed the sweeping overhaul.
Those stakeholders, including the drug industry, doctors, hospitals and manufacturers of medical products, were responsible for one out of every five dollars doled out on lobbying during that period, according to a CQ MoneyLine analysis of lobbying disclosure reports filed with Congress.
After watching the health care reform fight, I can assure you that the money was well spent. Proper reform that would have provided for true universal health care and brought our health care costs down to a level similar to the rest of the industrialized world would have reduced the revenues of many health care industries by roughly 20-50%.
Just take, for example, the drug makers and their powerful association, PhRMA. They spent $253 million on the health care fight according to the article. As a result, they managed to keep out drug re-importation and direct Medicare drug price negotiation, and were able to add very long exclusivity periods for biologics. A very conservative estimate would be that any of these three changes alone would have saved the government and consumers–in other words, cost the drug makers–$100 billion over the next decade. You could safely conclude that the drug makers will probably get roughly 100,000% return on their lobbying investment.
If you don’t think corporate money has a corrosive effect on our politics and public policy, the medical industrial complex has successfully placed a nearly billion-dollar bet that you are wrong.