For health groups looking to make a splash at last week's Republican National Convention in San Diego, the vehicle of choice was a boat.
The American Hospital Association hosted lawmakers, hospital executives, delegates, journalists and others all week on a well-appointed modest-sized sailboat called the JADA, an acronym for the owners' names.
According to Richard Pollack, AHA executive vice president of federal relations, one of the group's goals at the convention was to "single out members of Congress who have been helpful or who we wanted to get closer to, and the boat was a way to do that."
But when it came to ships, the American Medical Association clearly displaced the most water. Mojo, the AMA's 100-foot luxury yacht, held nearly 150 people and was one of the prime tickets all week.
Both groups also were among 16 primary sponsors-to the tune of $10,000 each-of a weeklong party hosted by Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the chairman of the House Republican Conference, the party's communication and strategy wing. The party, dubbed "The Best Little Warehouse in San Diego" was held at a refurbished warehouse outside the convention hall.
Other health groups bankrolled the Boehner party at $5,000 each. The list included the American Association of Health Plans, the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, and the National Association for Home Care.
Dozens of other parties were hosted by health groups. The Federation of American Health Systems was one of several groups that hosted a huge soiree for House Ways and Means Committee health subcommittee Chairman Rep. William Thomas (R-Calif.) at the San Diego Planet Hollywood restaurant. Several pharmaceutical firms threw a party called "Castaway Afternoon" patterned after the television sitcom "Gilligan's Island."
But parties were not the only events held during the week.
The AHA hosted what has become its traditional political convention event, its "Hospitals Run for America's Health." The five-kilometer race attracted more than 500 runners and walkers, including several lawmakers and running legend Jim Ryun, a former Olympic athlete and current Republican challenger for Congress in Kansas.
According to Pollack, the run is a way to "show our mission in a positive way." Health groups also were visible supplying health-related services at convention events.
Emergency services were provided by the Hospital Council of San Diego and Imperial Counties, the California Health Care Association and Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.