Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Whatever else you can say about the Medicare drug benefit legislation and the mountains of interpretations it has spawned -- and you could say a lot -- one effect of the law, which doesn't actually kick in until next year, is that it has generated a lot of employment for health care lobbyists and lawyers. According to an article by Robert Pear in today's N.Y. Times, lobbying work in the health care sector now leads all other industries, including defense:
Last year alone, the health care industry spent $325 million - more than any other sector - in its efforts to influence Congress and federal agencies, according to Political Money Line, a nonpartisan group that studies reports filed with Congress by lobbyists and their clients.
Drug companies led the way. They reported spending $86.9 million on lobbying last year, followed by hospitals with $55 million and doctors with $35.4 million.
And health lawyers aren't far behind the gravy train:
As the costs of Medicare and Medicaid soar, federal prosecutors and members of Congress are investigating fraud and abuse with new zeal. Many health care companies find they need more lawyers and lobbyists to cope.
In a recent advertisement recruiting lawyers for its Washington office, Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, one of the nation's largest law firms, said its health care practice had "experienced tremendous growth."