Major healthcare companies and lobbying groups spent big dollars as they fought to advance their interests on surprise medical billing, Affordable Care Act taxes and prescription drug pricing ahead of a big year-end spending deal, and they mostly got their way.
The American Hospital Association opposed a bipartisan, bicameral compromise on surprise billing that was ultimately left out of the 2020 appropriations package. The group spent more than $6.6 million on lobbying in the last quarter of 2019 according to federal lobbying disclosures, which is $1.2 million more than it spent over the same period in 2018.
The Greater New York Hospital Association, an influential force in Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) home state, spent $620,000 on lobbying in Q4 2019, up $40,000 from the same time period in 2018. Schumer called Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who negotiated the surprise billing deal, to express his displeasure with the agreement at a key juncture, the Washington Post reported.
"This isn't your typical partisan fight about healthcare. This is really about the business interests of healthcare against the interests of families," said Frederick Isasi, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Families USA.
AHA and GNYHA declined to comment on their lobbying spending.