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Health reform looms in Mass. Senate race

By Dan Eggen
Groups opposed to health-care reform have plunged into the battle for Ted Kennedy's former Senate seat, launching an attack on Democratic candidate Martha Coakley for accepting last-minute donations from insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists.

Coakley (D), the Massachusetts state attorney general, was the beneficiary of a fundraiser at Capitol Hill's Sonoma Restaurant Tuesday night led by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and hosted by more than a dozen prominent health-care lobbyists, according to an invitation to the event obtained by news organizations. 

Among the listed hosts were power-lobbyists Tony and Heather Podesta, whose separate firms represent various drugmakers and medical device makers; Steven Elmendorf, whose clients include the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) trade group; David Castagnetti, whose firm represents America's Health Insurance Plans, Merck, Humana and others; and Thomas Boggs of Patton Boggs, which represents Bristol-Myers Squibb. The political-action committee of Boston Scientific Corp., a major medical device manufacturer, was also on the roster.

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group opposing health reform, characterized the fundraiser as part of "a desperate attempt to preserve passage of the health insurance company bailout bill."

"This is further and conclusive proof that the only dialogue that matters during the health-care reform debate has been in the backrooms between industry lobbyists, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the White House," said Eric Novack, a senior fellow in health-care policy for the group.

A Coakley spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday night. Top donors were asked to raise $10,000 each, according to the invitation, which was first reported by the Washington Examiner.

The Democratic fundraiser came amid polling showing a tightening race between Coakley and state senator Scott Brown, her Republican opponent. Brown's campaign said it raised $1.3 million in an Internet fundraiser on Tuesday as the political parties and outside interest groups began pouring money and advertising into the race.

Brown has pledged to vote against final health reform legislation if elected. The scenario could deny Democrats the 60-vote super-majority needed to move ahead with compromise legislation in the Senate, dramatically complicating efforts to have a bill on President Obama's desk by February.

Both candidates have sparred over Democratic health-care legislation, parts of which bear similarities to the health insurance system approved in Massachusetts under then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R). Massachusetts Democrats have stressed Kennedy's career-long quest to enact health reform as a key reason to elect Coakley.

Tuesday's fundraiser underscores the almost Byzantine politics surrounding the Obama administration's health-care plan, which was constructed in large part by requiring sacrifices from drugmakers, hospitals and other major health-care sectors in exchange for the promise of millions of new customers. 

As a result, both Democrats and Republicans have spent months accusing each other of being in the pockets of the health-care industry. Hospitals, doctors, drugmakers and insurers have largely pledged their support for reform overall, even while many of them have fought back proposals for a government-run insurance option and other policies that would cut into their bottom lines.

By By Dan Eggen  |  January 13, 2010; 6:07 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Barack Obama , Capitol Briefing , Democratic Party , Health Care , Health Care , Issues  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Insurers quietly fund opposition to Democrats' health push
Next: 'Serious problems' remain for reform


sophic wrote:
The Democrats are getting ACORN involved...
The telltale signs to look for:

1) more votes in your district than voters

2) names like Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Daffy Duck, Fog Horn, Porky Pig and Al Gore on the voting list along with lots of dead people...

3) don't be fooled by the media ignoring these serious abnormalities...

4) Panthers with AK-47s at voting booths asking for your party affiliation...

5) unknown Czars running the voting booths...

6) Electronic voting machines on the Democrat side and old punch card voting devices that were shown defective in the "hanging chad" years on the Republican side

7) stramge people outside handing out money to certain people

Posted by: ProCounsel | January 13, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: grunk | January 13, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Health insurance isn't non-constitutional, but requiring it under penalty of a fine
or prison surely is.

Posted by: depoulins | January 13, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Everyone I know,( with the exception of one), hopes Mass. stands up and tells these crooked, bribing, back room politicians what they can do with this unconstitutional monstrosity that is being forced on the majority. People are angry and feel disrespected. Coakley and her big Pharma and greedy cohorts need to take a hike.

Posted by: inmanorj


You might listen to that one person in your select group more. The health proposal isn't unconstitutional. Just as Medicare isn't unconstitutional.

The line item veto that you folks thought was constitutional wasn't. McCain Feingold that you thought was unconstitutional was, in fact, constitutional. Your track record on the Constitution isn't all that great.

I take it you prefer the Medicare Part D that Bush and the GOP leadership brought us. Which was substantially larger than this Health reform legislation; wasn't paid for in any manner through compensating cuts or taxes; blocked the import of drugs from countries like Canada in favor of importing from China; and prohibited the federal government from negotiating prices with big pharm. Love that last one. Free market capitalism ... can't negotiate prices. Why not disallow Wal*Mart from negotiating while you're at it? The Bush White House even withheld their budget office's estimate for the cost of the program until after the vote.

I suppose that's what you call transparency?

If you really think the bill is unconstitutional then save yourself some money let it get signed into law and then run it through the Federal courts.

TO: AJAX2 ...

The Constitution Party ... why are you wasting your time. How many seats does the Constitution Party hold in the US Senate and US Congress?

Posted by: James10 | January 13, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Everyone I know,( with the exception of one), hopes Mass. stands up and tells these crooked, bribing, back room politicians what they can do with this unconstitutional monstrosity that is being forced on the majority. People are angry and feel disrespected. Coakley and her big Pharma and greedy cohorts need to take a hike.

Posted by: inmanorj | January 13, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

In keeping with the Obama policy of "Transparency" in goverment, I have decided to follow the Obama Administrations example. I have some information of earth shattering interest that could bring down the Obama administration and send many to jail for years. In order to be as transparent as Obama has been, I'll let you know what it is....maybe later.

Posted by: jonweiss1 | January 13, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Help end the democrat communist nightmare.

Help Scott Brown take back America.

Voting for Scott Brown can stop the democrat fraudulent communist government healthcare that is threatening our country.


Posted by: twotimetuna | January 13, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

We, as citizens and Sovereigns of the United States of America, cannot continue on the path We now find ourselves and remain a free People.

Constitution Party National Platform

We declare the platform of the Constitution Party to be predicated on the principles of
The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States and
The Bill of Rights

According to the original intent of the Founding Fathers, these founding documents are the foundation of our Liberty and the Supreme Law of the Land.

The sole purpose of government, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, is to secure our unalienable rights given us by our Creator. When Government grows beyond this scope, it is usurpation, and liberty is compromised.

We believe the major issues we face today are best solved by a renewed allegiance to the original intent of these founding documents.

- ALSO -


Posted by: AJAX2 | January 13, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

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