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Health Care Industries Lobby For Proposed Funds

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

As President-elect Barack Obama and Democratic congressional leaders craft an economic stimulus package, "a parade of interest groups is seeking shares of the portion that will go to infrastructure construction projects," including some in the health care sector, the Boston Globe reports.

An adviser to Obama said that spending priorities will be placed on measures that are "inherently short term and are spent out quickly," which, according to the Globe, "could mean the grants for health information technology systems, but not the longer-term increase in subsidies for coverage that Obama has endorsed" (Mooney, Boston Globe, 12/15). According to the Washington Post, an Obama aide said that some of the most legacy-building aspects of the stimulus package will be in areas other than transportation infrastructure, such as expanding electronic health records (MacGillis/Shear, Washington Post, 12/14).

CongressDaily reports that biotechnology companies also are seeking funds from the stimulus package. The companies are asking for federal funds now in exchange for not taking advantage of research tax credits later, according to CongressDaily. Former Rep. Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of Biotechnology Industry Organization, said that biotech companies rely heavily on investment firms, which are suffering because of the credit crisis.

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As a result, biotech firms have stopped clinical trials of drugs to treat such diseases as Alzheimer's, cancer and multiple sclerosis. House Ways and Means Committee member Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) is expected to support help for biotech companies in a stimulus bill, and Stephen Krupin, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said the senator "supports the biotechnology industry and is eager to explore ideas for helping it and others affected by the credit and capital freezes plaguing the markets" (Edney, CongressDaily, 12/12).

According to the Chicago Tribune's "The Swamp," "The primary goal of Obama's stimulus is job creation." Under his plan, Obama says 2.5 million new jobs could be created to rebuild the nation's infrastructure by modernizing hospitals and improving energy efficiency at schools, among other things (Oliphant/Simon, "The Swamp," Chicago Tribune, 12/14). The National Governors Association also has requested $12 billion for one year, half of which would help cover Medicaid costs (Boston Globe, 12/15).

The Wall Street Journal reports that Obama's stimulus package is expected to be "significantly higher" than the two-year, $600 billion plan proposed two weeks ago, and could range between $700 billion and $1 trillion over two years. According to the Journal, "As economic conditions worsen, Obama economists now say the package will have to be larger than expected to ensure the needed stimulus actually reaches the economy" (Weisman/Solomon, Wall Street Journal, 12/13).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.