The creation of New York's new $9 billion healthcare financing system brought out more lobbying money than any one issue in the history of the state, a new report says.
A hospital workers' union and a hospital association spent more than $10 million lobbying on the Health Care Reform Act, about five times more than has ever been spent lobbying a single issue in New York state.
The effort sent total reported lobbying expenditures to a record $71.9 million last year, a 30% increase over the previous year, according to the state Lobbying Commission.
It marked the 19th straight year a new spending record had been set. New York began maintaining such spending data in 1978.
"Lobbying is continuing to be a growth industry in New York," said David Grandeau, executive director of the Lobbying Commission.
The new records come only a year after single-issue spending in the state capital of Albany broke the $1 million mark for the first time. In 1998, New York Life Insurance Co. spent $1.82 million on an unsuccessful attempt to get legislators to overhaul laws governing how mutual insurance companies can change their corporate status.
The HCRA spending started a new arms race in Albany for lobbyists, where everyone will look at what was spent on that campaign and try to outdo it for their own issues, government watchdog groups lamented.
"There's a `C' word that rules Albany, and it's not `citizen,' it's `cash,"' said Rachel Leon of Common Cause. Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group grumbled, "Clearly, the fat cats believe that money talks."
Most of the new spending on HCRA, New York's one-of-a-kind subsidy system to fund cash-shy aspects of the healthcare industry, came from the National Health and Human Service Employees Union Local 1199, the Service Employees International Union and the Greater New York Hospital Association's Healthcare Education Project. The coalition spent $10.1 million on the effort.