Health care industry ranks first, by far, in legislative lobbying since ’93; insurance second, tobacco third; drugmakers’ rank a mystery

By far, health-care interests have spent the most on lobbying the General Assembly since the Legislative Ethics Commission was created 22 years ago, Jonathan Meador of Insider Louisville discovered among many other things as he crunched the data filed by lobbying interests over the years.

“The most dominant industries in Kentucky in terms of lobbying dollars
have been, by far, the health care and health insurance sectors,
comprised primarily of for-profit HMOs and to a lesser extent hospitals,
many of which are listed in their own category within the larger
dataset,” Meador reports.

Health care accounted for almost 23 percent of lobbying expenses categorized by Meador, while insurance totaled 11 percent. Tobacco, the cause of many of Kentucky’s health problems, ranked third, just behind insurance. Most of the tobacco lobbying in Kentucky is done by Altria Group, parent firm of Philip Morris Cos., makers of Marlboro and other cigarettes. It has lobbied against a statewide smoking ban with the help of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, a big insurance interest.

One other major category, “pharmaceutical issues,” made the Insider Louisville pie chart, at 6.8 percent. It would have been much larger had it included advertising by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which ran radio ads before and during legislative sessions encouraging listeners to ask legislators to vote against bills to limit the sales of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in making methamphetamine. At the time, such advertising did not have to be reported; now it does.

Meador notes that the “nonprofit” designation “can include everything from conservative anti-abortion
groups to the progressive Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, and even
well-heeled professional membership organizations like the Kentucky
Medical Association
.” While KMA is a health-care organization, doctors and health-care businesses don’t always agree on issues.

Meador also notes that “Chamber of Commerce” in the chart includes local chambers as well as the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, which usually spends more than any other particular lobbying organization. The figures do not include lobbying of the executive branch, which is monitored by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

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