Tag Archives: lobbyists

Potter: Insurance industry taking advantage of media’s inattention to health reform

Wendell Potter, the former insurance company public relations executive who has been critical of the industry, writes that journalists who were covering health reform have moved on and insurance companies have noticed the lack of scrutiny.

Potter, writing for the Center for Public Integrity, says some journalists consider the writing of regulations to implement the legislation boring and of little interest to the public.”

But insurance company lobbyists know the media are not paying much attention. And so they are able to influence what the regulations actually look like—and how the law will be enforced—with little scrutiny, much less awareness.

Consumer advocates tell Potter that the insurance industry is “pushing back” against rules that would give consumers clear information about their rights and would expedite appeals in urgent situations.

Those rules, which were written by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, were scheduled to go into effect on July 1 but indications are that the Obama administration will push the implementation date back to Jan. 1, 2012, Potter says.

How can we help you cover reform and implementation?

As AHCJ’s health reform topic leader, Joanne Kenen is writing blog posts, tip sheets, articles and gathering resources to help our members cover the complex implementation of health reform. Her latest post is “Health reform battle entering a new phase.” If you have questions or suggestions for future resources on the topic, please send them to joanne@healthjournalism.org.

Analysis reveals who hired health care lobbyists

The Center for Public Integrity has put together an interesting analysis and graph of what interests were lobbying on health care reform in Congress in 2009.

Information to create the chart is drawn from an analysis of Senate lobbying disclosure forms. The analysis found that “more than 1,750 companies and organizations hired about 4,525 lobbyists — eight for each member of Congress — to influence health reform bills in 2009.”

Trade, advocacy and professional organizations led the lobbying push, with hospitals, insurance companies and manufacturers behind them.

Some interesting tidbits:

  • AARP deployed 56 in-house lobbyists and two from outside firms
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce had 47 lobbyists, all but eight from outside firms
  • The American Medical Association had 33, 11 from outside firms.
  • Some unexpected organizations, including Americans for the Arts and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, also had lobbyists trying to influence health care legislation.