Top lobbying groups dive into 'Medicare for All' debate

Top lobbying groups dive into 'Medicare for All' debate
© Greg Nash

The debate over "Medicare for All" is seeing big money interests rushing to back both sides, with top lobbying groups registered to both oppose and push for the policy.

Legislation for the single-payer system, introduced in the House in February, has 33 companies registered to lobby on it so far in 2019, including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Retail Federation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, the American Medical Association, and the American Hospital Association.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), has 113 co-sponsors.

And legislation in the Senate, introduced by 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has 14 co-sponsors.

Among the companies registered to lobby on the bill are also Kaiser Permanente, the American Federation of Teachers, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Planned Parenthood and the National Retail Federation.

These companies are big spenders on lobbying across all issues. So far in 2019, the Chamber has spent more than $22.3 million on lobbying and PhRMA has spent more than $10 million.

The American Medical Association has spent more than $6.9 million, the American Hospital Association has spent more than $6.3 million and Blue Cross Blue Shield has spent more than $5.8 million.

They are all in the top six spenders of lobbying in 2019 overall.

Medicare for all gained renewed attention as a divisive topic during the two Democratic debates this week, splitting the candidates. Sanders touted his legislation, which would fully eliminate private insurance, while other candidates indicated they would back a plan that allows people to stay in private insurance plans.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment MORE (D-Mass.) and New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioDe Blasio slams Bloomberg run for president: He 'epitomizes the status quo' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington braces for public impeachment hearings Trump NYC Veterans Day speech met with protests MORE (D) were the candidates to raise their hands in support of abolishing private health insurance during the first night, and on the second night, Sanders and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisOutsider candidates outpoll insider candidates Poll: Buttigieg leads Democratic field in Iowa Press: Another billionaire need not apply MORE (D-Calif.) raised their hands.

--Updated Friday at 2:50 p.m.