Political contributions have a major impact on health care and other issues. The issues citizens care about are influenced by big-spending special interests whose campaign contributions drown out the voices and opinions of individuals.

Consider the impact of campaign contributions on your health:

1. Industry interests opposed to new standards for patient care have stepped up their political giving.

  • Just in the first six months of the 1999-2000 election cycle, industry groups have contributed more than $4 million in soft money to political parties.
  • Contributions by the two main trade groups for the industry, the American Association of Health Plans (AAHP) and the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA), increased dramatically in the first half of 1997 compared to the same period in previous election years.
  • Holding Patients Hostage: The Unhealthy Alliance Between HMOs & Senate Leaders (April 5, 2000)

2. Drugs cost more because of campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Since 1991, the companies belonging to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PHRMA), the trade group for brand-name drug makers, have given more than $18.6 million in political contributions.
  • With the help of that influence, brand-name drug companies have kept their bottom lines healthy by successfully convincing Congress to let them hold onto their drug patents longer.
  • Loss of access to generic drugs costs consumers as much as $550 million a year.
  • How the Prescription Drug Industry "Buys" Special Influence in Washington  (January 18, 2000)
  • Current Legislation on Schering-Plough efforts to extend patent on Claritin 

3. Campaign contributors are seeking to influence lawmakers' votes on health issues at all levels of government. For example:

  • Corporations seeking to restrict the ability of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to enforce worker health and safety regulations increased their political contributions when the issue came before Congress in 1995.
    Senate failed to a pass needlestick protection provision for public hospital workers not covered by OSHA.
  • According to a Massachusetts study, the health care industry was the largest source of campaign contributions to members of the health care committees of the Massachusetts legislature between 1989 and 1991. The same study exposed a 250-percent jump in industry contributions during the two-year period, a time when health care legislation became a top priority in the state.
  • A Los Angeles group established a link between insurance industry contributions to the state insurance commissioner and a host of pro-industry actions. The cost to consumers: $221 million in the commissioner's first 30 days in office.
  • In the aftermath of Ford/Firestone tragedies,  Auto Safety legislation is rolled back by special interests. $38 million paid off in auto industry: Secrecy of safety defect information secured.

4. Congressional action against food poisoning is at a standstill in the face of millions in industry contributions.

  • Thousands of Americans die each year -- and millions more become sick -- from the food they eat, and the number of disease-producing agents in the nation's food supply is growing.
  • Congress, however, consistently has ignored the growing threat to the public health posed by the slaughter and meatpacking industry.
  • Over the past decade, the food industry poured more than $41 million into the campaign treasuries of Capitol Hill lawmakers and managed to kill every bill that has promised meaningful improvement

Campaign contributions have an impact on the issues you care about. That means you should care about the role of money in politics. See more about how soft money hurts consumers

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