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Who got health industry buck$ – the answer might surprise you

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on March 26, 2010 at 6:00 am |
March 25, 2010 5:09 pm

The recent fight over health care reform has divided sharply along party lines. The GOP decries the Democrats vision of a “government takeover” of your health, while the Dems say it’s a modest step to keep “big, bad insurance companies” from running amok. So you’d assume that campaign and lobbying dollars from the health care business interest would divide that way, too.

But this analysis of health care industry spending by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that the money is much more bipartisan than the debate. The government watchdog group added up health sector industry spending on lobbying and campaigns from 1989 to 2009, and found that health interests have spent $3.5 billion over the last 20 years trying to influence lawmakers, nearly $600 million of it last year alone.

In the latest cycle, Democrats fared better than Republicans in attracting dollars from pharmaceutical companies, medical professionals and, yes, even “evil” insurance companies. (That may be expected, given that Democrats are running both houses.)

Among the Washington delegation, members of both parties took campaign contributions from the health care lobby over the two decades. The big beneficiaries were Democrats, particularly Patty Murray, who sits on both the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee and the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee.

Here’s how the delegation stacks up, based on the numbers from the Center for Responsive Politics’ numbers. As you can see, the money didn’t line up with the outcome of their votes on the health care bill:

MEMBERTOTAL CONTRIBUTIONS VOTE
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash)$1,170,438 Yes
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Bainbridge Island) $655,882Yes
Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Lake Stevens)$653,015Yes
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash)$622,001Yes
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle)$522,507Yes
Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Auburn)$424,870No
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Tacoma)$411,039Yes
Rep. Brian Baird (D-Vancouver) $357,868Yes
Rep. Cathy McMorris (R-Deer Park)$336,589No
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Belfair)$257,837Yes
Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Pasco)$219,292No

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