Health Care Industry Cleans Up On Capitol Hill In Massive Spending Bill

Health care lobbyists were able to convince Congress to add provisions to the new $1.4 trillion spending bill that offered their industry a substantial windfall and to block several initiatives that would cut into profits.

Through its lobbying efforts, the health care industry was able to convince both Democrats and Republicans to come together on measures that ensured generous tax breaks and greater profits for the industry, the Washington Post reported Friday.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a health care rally at the 2017 Convention of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee on September 22, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“It’s the ‘no special interest left behind bill’ of 2019. That’s what it feels like this is,” Andy Slavitt, an Obama administration health administrator, told the Washington Post. “There’s no other explanation.” (RELATED: Ted Cruz Uses ‘Lobbyist Boondoggle’ Spending Bill As An Ashtray)

While Republicans and Democrats clashed over impeachment throughout the week, political unity characterized the health care giveaway. A bipartisan campaign to end secret billing from medical practitioners was delayed for a year because of the efforts of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, according to the Post.

A bipartisan effort to reduce prescription drug prices was similarly blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley. (RELATED: Mitch McConnell Tells AHA That ‘Far Left’ Medicare For All ‘Serious Bad News’)

Drug companies managed to secure extended patent protection that could result in windfall profits for the industry.

Lobbyists were also able to garner support for the repeal of taxes that were critical to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Even  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a longtime supporter of the ACA, agreed to the repeal of the taxes. Health care lobbyists also zeroed in on rookie lawmakers from the midterm elections, including many Democrats from districts won by Trump in 2016, the Post noted.

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi talks to reporters encountered as she walks near the room where witnesses are testifying in the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Trump led by the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Oct. 30, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi talks to reporters encountered as she walks near the room where witnesses are testifying in the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Trump led by the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Oct. 30, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The end result was a special place in the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by both the House and Senate this week. The legislation axed three of the taxes initiated to fund the ACA. Although the taxes were never fully implemented, repealing the taxes will cut tax revenue by $375 billion over the next decade, according to the Post.

“As we made the case to members of Congress, people began to agree it’s just not good policy,” Scott Whitaker, president and chief executive of AdvaMed, a medical technology trade association, told the Post.

Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy has called the document something created by “swamp creatures” and is urging President Donald Trump to use his veto power to crush it.

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