May 10, 2004
Quid Pro Quo
A few weeks after the Bush administration named Medco to be one of the first Medicare drug card providers, a company executive helped throw a $100,000 fund-raiser for the president that was headlined by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.
The role of Medco Specialty Pharmacy Services president Alan Lotvin, a co-chairman of the mid-April event in New Jersey, is just one of the ways prescription drug card providers have reached out to Washington politicians over the last two years.
In all, companies that won approval from Thompson’s department to be the first Medicare drug discount card providers spent at least $35 million lobbying in 2003, and their executives and lobbyists donated or raised hundreds of thousands of dollars more for Bush’s re-election, an Associated Press review found.
Democratic rival John Kerry received a much smaller amount from the same group.
“I think it is generally recognized in Washington that involvement in the campaign finance process certainly often can be very helpful to your legislative agenda,” said Wright Andrews, a former president of the American League of Lobbyists. “It does tend to provide you better access in that people logically are likely to at least ensure that they hear you out.”
Lotvin’s parent company, pharmaceutical-benefit manager Medco Health Solutions, and its then-owner, pharmaceutical giant Merck, together spent about $9 million on lobbying in the capital last year. Merck spun off Medco as a separate company late last summer.
It’s actually a very long article, that just cites example after example. Sigh.