Lobbyists expect bounty to continue after healthcare battle

K Street feasted on the fruits of healthcare reform, and while the issue is now off the legislative table, lobbyists expect the bounty to continue as agencies work to put the broad reforms in practice.

Randy Fenninger, a senior policy advisor at Holland and Knight, said his firm registered to lobby on healthcare for 22 new clients in 2009.

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“The growth has been substantial,” he said.

Now that President Barack Obama has signed both the underlying healthcare reform legislation and the legislative “fixes” in the reconciliation bill, lobbyists will move on to issues surrounding implementation of the legislation.

Fenninger said he expects the issue to continue to drive business to legal and law firms like Holland & Knight as the administration implements the reforms, which is expected to provide insurance for 31 million additional Americans.

On Monday, Fenninger said he is discussing with a prospective client how the reform bill may impact insurance coverage and other areas of its business.

“The regulatory process will keep people very busy,” he said. “I expect to be gainfully employed.”

About 1,750 businesses and organizations spent at least $1.2 billion in 2009 to lobby on health reform and other issues, according to the study released Friday by the Center for Public Integrity. A precise figure isn’t available because lobbying disclosure forms don’t require companies or other groups to itemize how much they spend to lobby on a particular issue.

The largest lobbying firm in terms of revenue, Patton Boggs, set the pace in healthcare lobbying too, according to the Center. Fifty-three clients paid Patton Boggs $7.68 million to lobby on healthcare and other issues.

Alston & Bird was number two, with 40 clients that spent $4.6 million on healthcare and other issues. Alston’s lobbying team included Thomas Scully, a former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which will implement large segments of the reform law.

Ken Gross, an ethics lawyer at Skadden Arps, told the Center that the lobbying campaign on healthcare reform was likely the most expensive ever.

Revenues at several K Street firms grew as a direct result of the administration’s push on healthcare reform, lobbyists said.

Rich Gold, head of the public policy and regulation group at Holland & Knight, said health legislation was responsible for about half of a 43 percent increase in lobbying revenues at his firm in 2009 compared to 2008.

The firm had the fourth most healthcare clients, 28, among D.C. lobbying firms, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

Foley Hoag, the Podesta Group, Capitol Tax Partners, Dutko Worldwide, Drinker Biddle & Reath, and Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti also reaped big rewards from the healthcare debate.

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