Health Care Companies Lobby To Avoid Cuts

This article published with permission from The Burrill Report.

The Congressional Supercommittee charged with cutting $1.5 trillion from the budget over the next 10 years said November 21 that it will fail to meet its deadline to have a deficit reduction plan, but it got no shortage of advice from lobbyists. The health care sector, in fact, outpaced all other industry groups in terms of lobbying efforts aimed at the Supercommittee, according to an analysis of reports filed with the U.S. Senate analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The Supercommittee, officially known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, had a deadline of November 23 to draft a bipartisan agreement on its plan.

“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline,” the committee’s co-chairs, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said in a statement posted on the committee’s website.

The intensive effort from the health care sector speaks to how vulnerable the industry feels it is to ongoing efforts in Washington to cut spending. Lobbyists conveyed concerns about a range of issues from Medicare to drug pricing as the committee searched for opportunities to cut spending. The committee’s failure, though, resulted from an inability to bridge the gulf between Republican and Democratic members on raising taxes.

The Center for Responsive Politics found that about 30% of the more than 400 companies, unions, and trade associations that reported lobbying the committee represented the health care sector. Among the 118 organizations within the health care sector that lobbied the Supercommittee were the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and the Advanced Medical Technology Association.

About 30 individual pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies also appear on the list. These include Abbott Laboratories, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Biogen Idec, Boston Scientific, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Genzyme, GlaxoSmithKline, Medimmune, Merck, Millennium/Takeda Oncology, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Varian Medical Systems, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

Other health care groups included organizations such as the American Medical Association, The American Hospital Association and the American Nurses Association, as well as a long list of hospitals, health care systems and medical societies.

The Center for Responsive Politics cautioned that it's impossible to know how much money each organization invested on Supercommittee-related lobbying. Federal law only requires groups to disclose a lump-sum amount for their quarterly lobbying activity and not a breakdown of the amount spent lobbying on particular issues.

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