Pushing One Agenda At White House, Others On Hill

Health executives meet with President Obama on May 11 i i

hide captionHealth care industry executives joined President Obama (center) at the White House on May 11 as he announced a health care savings agreement. Pictured with the president, from left: Tom Priselac of Cedars-Sinai Health System; Richard Clark of Merck; George Halverson of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan; J. James Rohack of the American Medical Association; Dennis River of SEIU Healthcare; and Michael Mussallem of Edwards Lifesciences.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Health executives meet with President Obama on May 11

Health care industry executives joined President Obama (center) at the White House on May 11 as he announced a health care savings agreement. Pictured with the president, from left: Tom Priselac of Cedars-Sinai Health System; Richard Clark of Merck; George Halverson of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan; J. James Rohack of the American Medical Association; Dennis River of SEIU Healthcare; and Michael Mussallem of Edwards Lifesciences.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Democratic leaders last week gave up hope that they could pass a health-care overhaul bill before the August recess. It's a far cry from May 11, when health-care executives clustered around President Obama as he announced agreement on a savings package worth as much as $2 trillion.

In the months since that show of unity, however, the industry executives have committed millions of dollars to lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers wrestle with the details of a health care overhaul. (See details of their lobbying expenditures this year below.)

Moreover, the May 11 agreement and others negotiated by the White House and Senate Finance Committee have not been upheld by other Democrats on Capitol Hill. That has angered many of these executives and jeopardized the deals.

Among the deals: $155 billion in hospital cost savings over 10 years, and an understanding with brand-name drugmakers that would help cut prescription drug prices for many seniors on Medicare.

Health industry executives with Vice President Biden on July 8 i i

hide captionVice President Biden made an announcement on health care at the White House on July 8, 2009. Joining Biden, from left, were: Wayne Smith of Community Health Systems; Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; Rich Umbdenstock of the American Hospital Association; and Richard Bracken of the Hospital Corporation of America.

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Health industry executives with Vice President Biden on July 8

Vice President Biden made an announcement on health care at the White House on July 8, 2009. Joining Biden, from left, were: Wayne Smith of Community Health Systems; Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; Rich Umbdenstock of the American Hospital Association; and Richard Bracken of the Hospital Corporation of America.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The industry representatives present on May 11 included executives from the American Medical Association and American Hospital Association; both groups are now allied with the administration, at least temporarily.

The administration last week acknowledged that health-care industry executives met at least 48 times with officials at the White House, starting in early February.

White House Counsel Greg Craig disclosed names and dates in a letter to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group that filed a freedom-of-information lawsuit to get the more complete, official logs of the visits.

Craig told CREW that Obama "has decided to exercise his discretion" when it comes to releasing the White House visitor logs. CREW countered that the limited disclosure "is directly at odds with President Obama's stated commitment to transparency and accountability."

The Obama administration's refusal to release the logs has prompted critics to draw comparisons to former Vice President Dick Cheney, who refused to reveal which energy industry executives were involved when he led a taskforce that wrote a national energy policy. Lawsuits in that case dragged on for most of the Bush administration.

Below is the White House list of the players in the health care debate who have visited 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, along with the number of times each visited. NPR matched those names against the lobbying reports filed by the organizations they represent:

Attended The May 11 Meeting With President Obama
Name Position Organization White
House
Visits
Lobby
Firms
Hired
2009
Lobbying
Outlays
Billy Tauzin president/CEO Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) 5 45 $13,060,000
Rick Smith senior vice president PhRMA 3
Karen Ignagni president/CEO America's Health Insurance Plans 5 5 $3,900,000
Jay Gellert president/CEO Health Net, Inc. 4 5 $980,000
Richard Umbdenstock president/CEO American Hospital Association (AHA) 8 8 $7,070,000
Richard Clark chairman/president/CEO Merck 2 10 $3,030,000
J. James Rohack president American Medical Association (AMA) 4 3 $8,220,000
Rebecca Patchin chair AMA 1
Rich Deem senior vice president AMA 1
Andy Stern president Service Employees International Union (SEIU) At least 1 9 $1,402,272
Dennis Rivera chair SEIU Healthcare At least 1
Steve Ubl president/CEO AdvaMed 1 7 $744,962
David Nexon senior executive vice president AdvaMed 1
Michael Mussallem chairman/CEO Edwards Lifesciences 1 2 $600,000
George Halvorson chairman/CEO Kaiser Foundation Health Plan 3 0 $460,000
Tho Priselac president/CEO Cedars-Sinai Health System 2 1 $150,000
Ken Raske president Greater New York Hospital Association 1 2 $570,000

Not At The May 11 Meeting
Name Position Organization White
House
Visits
Lobby
Firms
Hired
2009
Lobbying
Outlays
William Weldon chairman/CEO Johnson & Johnson 1 12 $3,085,000
Angela Braly CEO WellPoint 1 1 $2,420,000
Jeffrey Kindler chairman/CEO Pfizer 3 10 $11,720,000
Wayne Smith CEO Community Health Systems Inc. 1 1 $50,000

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