So I promised some positive commentary on the TIME magazine article “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us“, so here’s my positive spin on the first section.
Section 1: Routine Care, Unforgettable Bills
The author points out that our nation’s largest city is often thought of as a center of finance. In fact, most people don’t automatically think medicine when they think of New York City. The author notes that of New York City’s 18 largest employers, eight of them are hospitals. I could rant about how the author discounts just how important the health care industry is to the US economy, but I’ll refer you to my former post instead.
I will support the author on one critical part of this first section – just how powerful the medical community is when it comes to politics. When we think of powerful lobbyists in the halls of Washington, D.C., most people think of the oil industry, the NRA, the automotive industry… perhaps the pharmaceutical industry. Certainly PhRMA spends a decent amount of money trying to sway lawmaker opinions (Medicare Part D anyone?), but the table below from the Center for Responsive Politics may surprise you.
From 1998 through 2012, the third biggest spender of lobbying dollars was not Exxon Mobil, the NRA, or Ford/General Motors – but rather the American Medical Association. But don’t worry, the AMA was closely followed by the American Hospital Association (4th) and PhRMA (5th). Oh and not far behind is Blue Cross/Blue Shield, one of the largest private health insurance companies in the country. I know “lobbying” sounds inherently bad, but naturally each of these organizations is fighting for the interests of those they represent. Clearly some of their lobbying money is put to good use, but one can’t help but wonder what else $281.3 million will buy you in Washington.
|Lobbying Client||Total (1998-2012)|
|US Chamber of Commerce||$966,955,680|
|American Medical Assn||$281,282,500|
|American Hospital Assn||$235,149,136|
|Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs of America||$232,583,920|
|National Assn of Realtors||$219,817,423|
|Blue Cross/Blue Shield||$202,740,052|
|Edison Electric Institute||$172,936,789|
|National Cable & Telecommunications Assn||$142,380,000|
|National Assn of Broadcasters||$132,890,000|