While Mr. Obama continues to hammer out his health care reform plan, Democrats on Capitol Hill also are working on their own proposals to overhaul the nation’s medical system.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in recent weeks has orchestrated meetings with lobbyists and lawmakers from both parties to craft legislation to provide affordable medical coverage to all Americans.
The Massachusetts Democrat, who has been sidelined for months with a dangerous form of brain cancer, also has organized at least 14 roundtable meetings since June with members from both parties on the Senate committees with jurisdiction over health care.
Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, on Wednesday released a blueprint for universal health care coverage. His plan calls for a nationwide insurance pool that would allow those without health insurance to receive medical care.
House Energy and Commerce Chairman John D. Dingell, Michigan Democrat, whose committee has authority over health care issues, has vowed to make health care reform a priority in the coming year.
The PhRMA campaign won’t be the first health care lobbying effort designed to sway public opinion against a new president’s plans for health care reform. The “Harry and Louise” TV ads in 1993 attacked President Clinton’s proposed health care overhaul, and were widely credited as playing a key role in killing the plan. The lobbying group Health Insurance Association of America, which ran the ads, spent $10 million on the campaign.
Drugmakers so far have generally shied away from criticizing the new administration, saying they are taking a wait-and-see approach to Mr. Obama’s pending health care reforms. But the PhRMA ad campaign indicates that the industry is leaving nothing to chance.
Drug manufacturers also gave more than $1.6 million to Mr. Obama’s presidential election campaign - almost triple the amount the industry gave to the Democrat’s Republican rival, Mr. McCain.
“We’ve been moving the pieces on the chess board around for some time now getting ready for next year, and we’ve got a great game plan in place,” Mr. Johnson said. “We think we’ve earned a right at the table, and we’re optimistic that at the end of the day, the majority of members of Congress will recognize the importance of the pharmaceutical industry to health care.”