HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lobbying Money and Health Reform

Nate Silver at the FiveThirtyEight blog has crunched some numbers on the impact of health lobbying money on the public health option.  He concludes that such monetary influence does have an impact on several senators and their votes on the public option.  He writes,

As I lamented yesterday, health care is one of those areas where both popular opinion and sound public policy seem to take a backseat to protecting those stakeholders who benefit from the status quo. But can we actually see -- statistically -- the impact of lobbying by the insurance industry on the prospects for health care reform? I believe that the answer is yes. . . .

What happens if we set the lobbying variable to zero for all senators? That is, suppose that the health care insurance industry were prohibited from making political contributions? In that case, the model predicts, 47 senators would currently support the public option, as opposed to the 38 who actually do. In other words, the insurance industry's influence appears to swing about 9 votes against the public option. Whatever number of senators wind up supporting the public option, add 9 to it, and you'll have a decent ballpark estimate for what the level of support might be if not for insurance industry contributions. Note, however, that we haven't attempted to model the impact of contributions from other interest groups, including both pro-health reform organizations such as labor unions or other stakeholders like pharmaceutical companies. . .

The whole article is a great read and I enjoy Nate Silver's ability to provide such clarity to his research methods and results.  Thanks to for the site.

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