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Healthcare lobby in full swing

July 6, 2009 at 11:20 AM

WASHINGTON, July 6 (UPI) -- U.S. pharmaceutical, medical and insurance industries have geared up to influence healthcare reform with help from Washington insiders, company records show.

More than 350 lobbyist working the corridors in Washington for various healthcare companies were either elected officials or members of a congressional office, The Washington Post reported Monday.

Lobbyists include former members of Congress, such as Richard Armey and Richard Gephardt, both of whom now work for a pharmaceutical firm from New Jersey.

Fifty of the 350 former Washington insiders now working for the industry were employees of members of the Senate Finance Committee, led by Sen. Max Baucus D-Mont., the newspaper said.

The push for influence includes a big boost in spending, with healthcare businesses now spending about $1.4 million a day on lobbying efforts, the newspaper said.

Scott Mulhauser, a spokesman for Baucus's office, said the Finance Committee "has been praised … for its uniquely inclusive and transparent healthcare reform process."

But others disagree.

"The revolving door offers a short cut to a member of Congress to the highest bidder," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics.

"It's a small cost of doing business relative to the profits they can garner."

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