As the health care debate heats up in Washington, insurance and drug companies are keeping their lobbyists busy. So far this year, those industries have increased their lobbyist spending by 41% as they fight a proposed public insurance plan, USA Today reports. That's $35 million in the first quarter for the 20 biggest companies and their trade groups—$10 million more than last year.
The companies defend the spending and say they're looking out for the public's best interests. "We believe that the private health care marketplace fosters competition, innovation and consumer choice," Merck said. And groups that support public insurance are worried they won't be able to compete. "The other side is going to be outspending us inside the Beltway," one rep said.