Lobbying Against Medicare for All Surges in 2019

Public Citizen Finds Major Industry Opponents Are Hiring Dozens of Lobbyists As Medicare for All Comes Closer to Reality

Note: This press release was updated to clarify that the lobbyists counted by Public Citizen include those who took on Medicare for All as an issue in their portfolio, not just those who were newly hired to work on the issue.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lobbying against Medicare for All increased dramatically in the first quarter of 2019, indicating that major opponents, including Big Pharma and insurers, now view it as a legitimate threat, according to a report issued today by Public Citizen.

“The insurers, Big Pharma and the for-profit hospital industry are running scared,” said Eagan Kemp, health care policy advocate for Public Citizen. “They know the public is lining up behind Medicare for All – which would improve coverage for every American. Now big money opponents are trying to leverage their political power to beat back Medicare for All, not on the merits, but through insider lobbying and front groups.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • Nine of the 10 entities with the most lobbyists working on Medicare for All oppose it. They account for more than half of all lobbyists working on the issue.
  • Organizations with the highest number of Medicare for All lobbyists include the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (27), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (26), the American Medical Association (21) and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (18).
  • The total number of individual lobbyists working on Medicare for All, both for and against, increased from 29 in the first quarter of 2018 to 270 in the first quarter of 2019 – a ninefold increase.
  • The number of entities assigning federal lobbyists to work on Medicare for All, both for and against, increased from nine in the first quarter of 2018 to 61 in the first quarter of 2019 – a nearly sevenfold increase.

An overwhelming amount of the 270 lobbyists were employed by hard-line opponents of Medicare for All. The vast majority of those entities represent the pharmaceutical industry, hospitals, insurers and business interests.

Groups in support or neutral on Medicare for All on average had far fewer lobbyists, including Public Citizen (four), Planned Parenthood (three) and Families USA (two).

Aside from the increase in lobbying, several coalitions have formed in recent months to disseminate fear-mongering misinformation and engage in other opposition activities in hopes of blunting the momentum of Medicare for All. Notable forces driving this effort include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and conservative interest groups with histories of being funded by the Koch network and GOP strategist/money wrangler Karl Rove.

“We always knew we had the facts on our side, and now we’ve got the public and many policymakers with us,” said Public Citizen Program Associate Craig Sandler, who authored the report. “The increase in lobbying against Medicare for All serves as validation from our opposition that this movement has arrived.”