AMA Is Top Lobby; Other Health Care Groups Spend Big

It’s no secret that lobbying is big business. Now, the first-ever computerized analysis of disclosure reports shows just how much so–and reveals that some of the biggest spenders are health care concerns.

For the first half of 1997, the cost of lobbying the federal government came to $633 million in lobbyists’ salaries, office and travel expenses, research and meals and other favors. At the top of the list was the AMA, which between January and June poured $8.5 million into brokering influence about such front-burner issues as managed care regulation and Medicare reimbursement rules. “We have a broad range of issues we focus on,” the AMA’s James Stacey told the Associated Press, explaining why it keeps two dozen full-time staff lobbyists in Washington. AP conducted the comparison of disclosure reports, first mandated two years ago.

Some of the AMA’s expense was an attempt to cancel out, in essence, lobbying by the third-largest spender, Philip Morris. The tobacco giant spent $5.9 million during the period, $1.1 million less than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s $7 million. Other top health care lobbying interests: Pfizer Inc., $4.6 million; the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, $4 million; and the American Hospital Association, $3.4 million.

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