Why Democrats aren't blaming hospitals for healthcare costs 

The early rounds of debates suggest Democrats have decided on one issue: Insurance companies — and to some degree pharmaceutical companies — are responsible for the United States' healthcare cost predicament, as Olga Khazan points out in a July 31 column in The Atlantic

Democratic presidential candidates including Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., former Vice President Joe Biden and New York Mayor Bill De Blasio have all railed against payers in the debates, Ms. Khazan reports. However, she notes, this narrative has left out another major contributor to the problem: hospitals and physicians. 

Why have Democrats glossed over providers? One likely reason is the money, Ms. Khazan suggests. The American Hospital Association is a huge lobbying organization, she writes. 

The American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association are, in fact, the fifth and sixth biggest spenders on lobbying of any organization over the past decade, according to data from MapLight, a nonpartisan research organization. In 2019 alone, the AMA has spent $11.5 million on lobbying and the AHA has spent nearly $10.2 million. Meanwhile, MapLight data shows America's Health Insurance Plans has spent $5.1 million so far in 2019, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association spent $3.5 million, and UnitedHealth Group spent nearly $2 million. The spending of those payer organizations combined is roughly equal to that of the AHA. 

Notably, Mr. Sanders recently pledged to reject donations from political action committees related to pharmaceutical and insurance companies and asked all Democratic contenders to do the same. He did not mention donations from organizations representing hospital or physician interests. 

Read the full Atlantic article here

 

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