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Posted at 2:30 PM ET, 08/26/2010

Health Care tops lobbyist spending in Richmond

By Peter Galuszka

With Obamacare being hammered out, it should come as no shock that lobbyists for managed health care were at the top of the list during this year's General Assembly session.

That's the news from the latest batch of lobbyist reports for the period May 1, 2009, to April 30, 2010, at the secretary of the commonwealth office.

The Virginia Association of Health Plans, Sentara Healthcare, the Medical Society of Virginia and the Virginia Hospital and Health Care Association and others together put together the largest tranche of lobby money to influence legislators. The health plans group, for instance, coughed up $246,461 to pay for its lobbying staff, make presentations to legislators, take some out to dinner and provide other perks.

Connecting the dots further, managed care and physicians are heavily represented on Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's advisory group on health care that will recommend to him by next year how the state should handle such matters as electronic medical records and setting up health plan exchanges so self-employed and small business workers can get insurance. McDonnell's group has been criticized for being devoid of consumer representatives or ones advocating for the poor or elderly.

Apparently, however, the lobbying price tag is somewhat less than it was a few years ago when pay-day lending was the hot issue. But plenty of the usual suspects appear on this year's list.

Utility Dominion Resources, which has an advocacy group that runs like a a well-oiled machine, paid $193,668. That included a Nov. 15 foray that took five legislators and chiefs of staff of Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and then Gov. Tim Kaine to FedEx field to watch the Redskins beat Denver 27 to 17.

And as usual, the favorite watering holes are red meat emporiums such as Morton's of Chicago and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.

Peter Galuszka blogs at Bacon's Rebellion. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Peter Galuszka  | August 26, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Local blog network, Va. Politics, Virginia, development, economy, energy, environment, health care, public health, sports, stadium  
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