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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Donations by the top 15 health care political action committees rose to $11.7 million in 2009

Pharmacists, optometrists and groups representing an array of medical specialists boosted their political giving in 2009, as Congress worked on health care legislation that would dramatically reshape their industry, a review of new campaign-finance reports shows.

Donations by the top 15 health care political action committees rose to $11.7 million in 2009, a nearly 14% increase from 2007, the most recent non-election year, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data compiled by CQ MoneyLine. Despite the economic recession, most of the political action committees examined increased their giving.

The National Community Pharmacists Association had the biggest jump. Its political arm gave more than $1 million in 2009, more than triple its 2007 giving. The 13,000-member group worked successfully to insert favorable provisions in health bills that passed the House of Representatives and Senate last year, including a measure to roll back cuts in government reimbursements for generic drugs. The health care legislation is now stalled in Congress.

"We had our hats handed to us in years past," when the group contributed less money, said Bruce Roberts, CEO of the pharmacy group. "We are now focused on making sure we are in the game and getting our voices heard. It has been a good investment."

Among the top recipients: Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who is running for the U.S. Senate. Moran is the co-chairman of a congressional coalition focused on community pharmacies. He co-sponsored successful legislation in the House last year that granted pharmacies a three-month reprieve on complying with new federal accreditation rules to receive Medicare payments on the sale of medical supplies.(continues here)

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