The health care industry is making a record-breaking lobbying push to shape and soften health care reform, the Washington Post reports, laying out $1.4 million a day on an army of some 350 former Capitol Hill staffers and members of Congress. Three of every four health care lobbying firms has a key insider on its payroll, and nearly half are closely connected to the critical committees and lawmakers. Max Baucus, for example, recently held talks with two health care lobbyists who were both former Baucus chiefs of staff.
The drug group PhRMA is the biggest spender, doubling its lobbying budget to $7 million, and it’s playing hardball in the House, Politico reports. After striking a deal with Baucus on cost-cutting, it’s telling house members that if they try for something tougher, the senator will shoot them down—and there will be repercussions in 2010. “We are telling them that it will be harder for us to support them,” says an industry official.