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Indiana health groups dial back lobbying

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Indiana health-related companies were somewhat absent from the lobbying bonanza that gripped Washington, D.C., last year. For all the heat and light about health reform, major Indiana companies actually spent slightly less to lobby Congress.

Overall spending on lobbying by the health industry rose 11 percent to a massive $539.4 billion. But among the 10 largest health care organizations in Indiana, as well as a key industry group, spending on lobbying actually fell 3 percent.

A big reason was that Eli Lilly and Co., which led all pharmaceutical companies with its lobbying in 2008, drew back a bit. Its total tab in 2009 was 10-percent less, but still $11.2 million.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker generally favored the Democrats’ health reform bills—so long as they did not include a public option and granted 12 years of exclusivity before biotech drugs could be copied by generic competitors. Lilly has so far gotten what it wanted on both counts.

Lilly’s belt-tightening was more than offset by WellPoint Inc., the Indianapolis-based health insurer that has now become President Obama’s No. 1 foil in his drive to get health reform passed. He wants the House of Representatives to vote on a Senate version of reform, and a separate package of changes to it, by Saturday.

WellPoint spent $4.7 million on lobbying last year, up 21 percent from the previous year.

There also were big spikes in spending by most of Indiana’s medical-device companies, particularly after the Senate version of health reform threatened to stick the industry with $4 billion a year in fees. Those fees have since been whittled, but the medical-device industry still grumbles about them.
 
Bloomington-based Cook Group Inc. boosted its lobbying by 52 percent to $350,000. Warsaw-based Zimmer Holdings spent $240,000, a 45-percent jump. And Zimmer’s crosstown rival Biomet Inc. spent a whopping 76-percent more, for a total of $370,000.

But counteracting those increases was a pullback by Roche Diagnostics, which maintains its U.S. headquarters in Indianapolis; Roche slashed spending by 75 percent, to just $222,000.

The health reform debate did bring some first-time lobbyists into the game. Batesville-based Hill-Rom Holdings Inc. spent $270,000. And Indianapolis-based hospital system Community Health Network spent $130,000.

The count in Indiana might be skewed lower because doctors, who contribute to lobbying through their various national associations, increased overall lobbying by 8 percent. But other major organizations in Indiana spent less on lobbying in 2009, for various reasons.

Hospitals also tended to spend less in 2009 than the year before. Hospitals, as a whole, supported the Democratic health reform proposals, which would subsidize insurance so that 31 million additional Americans would have coverage. That means more paying customers for hospitals.

Indianapolis-based Clarian Health dropped its lobbying spending by 20 percent, to $210,000. The Sisters of St. Francis Health Services Inc., based in Mishawaka, Ind., reduced its lobbying expenses by 38 percent, to $80,000.

BioCrossroads, the Indianapolis-based life sciences development group, spent $83,000 on federal lobbying, down 13 percent from the previous year.

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  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

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  3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

  5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim

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