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Spending on Health Lobbying Jumps in Third Quarter of Year

Just as Democrats stepped up their rhetoric this summer against the health insurance industry, the sector’s lead association increased the amount it spent on federal lobbying.

America’s Health Insurance Plans disclosed Tuesday that it spent $2.4 million in the third quarter of this year, up from $1.9 million in the second quarter and $2 million in the first quarter. In total, AHIP has spent $6.3 million in federal lobbying this year, according to its Lobbying Disclosure Act filings.

“Our central focus right now is advancing comprehensive bipartisan health reform,— AHIP spokesman Robert Zirkelbach said. “The entire nation, especially in August, was focused on health care reform, and the American people were weighing in on their thoughts and priorities. Certainly that’s where our attention and focus has been.—

AHIP is just one of the many health care groups and medical industry players that have fueled spending on K Street as Congress and the White House craft a health care overhaul.

AdvaMed, which represents medical device makers, dramatically increased its lobbying spending in the third quarter. The group disclosed more than $610,000 in federal lobbying this quarter, up from $380,000 in the second quarter and $364,000 in the first quarter of this year. The uptick in LDA outlay is in part because AdvaMed has been fighting a proposed $4 billion annual tax on its industry. That tax remains part of the health care reform bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee.

Big drug and health companies, too, have continued to be leading players in LDA spending. Eli Lilly and Co. reported spending $2 million for the third quarter, while Johnson & Johnson disclosed $1.7 million for the same period. Novartis reported spending $1.4 million.

It may be just peanuts when compared to the big pharmaceutical and insurance industry numbers, but the consumer health care group Families USA Foundation Inc. doubled its spending this quarter. The group reported $30,000, up from $15,000 in the second quarter of 2009.

But some groups that ramped up their lobbying and grass-roots activities in response to the Finance Committee’s health care bill didn’t increase their LDA spending.

The American Clinical Laboratory Association, for example, successfully fought off a proposed tax to its industry but actually reported spending slightly less money in the third quarter of this year, $256,000, than in the third quarter of 2008 when it reported $320,000.

ACLA member company, Quest Diagnostics, however, did disclose an increase, reporting $190,000 for the third quarter of this year — up from $130,000 in the same quarter last year.

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