Feb. 9, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Drugmakers Wary Despite Apparent Win

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Ex-Rep. Billy Tauzin, former president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and owner of the lobbying firm Tauzin Consultants, said he thinks there will be mixed feelings from drugmakers about the Supreme Court's ruling.

PhRMA political action committee donations started tilting dramatically toward the GOP. The PAC’s donations were split virtually 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats in the 2010 cycle, but the PAC has given $17,000 to Republicans and only $9,000 to Democrats so far in the 2012 cycle, a split of almost 2-to-1.

Overall, drugmakers remain one of the top-spending industries on K Street, with $153 million in lobbying expenditures last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But GOP anger has yet to die down. A 16-month investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee released emails earlier this month that show that, as part of its deal with the White House, PhRMA spent almost $70 million on two tax-exempt groups that heavily promoted the law.

Committee Republicans say the deal violated the Obama administration’s stated commitment to transparency. Democrats say the probe breaks no new ground and is politically motivated. PhRMA officials have said they worked with the administration to advance patient interests.

PhRMA officials were not available for comment Thursday. Tauzin said Castellani has done a “fine job” and that PhRMA “was able to repair whatever hard feelings existed with the Republican Party.”

PhRMA continues to oppose the IPAB and will fight to repeal it, Castellani said in a statement released Thursday.

“We respect the court’s decision and recognize that there will be ongoing policy discussions about the future of health care in America, and about the impact of today’s decision on the health care law,” Castellani said. “We will work with Congress and the administration on a bipartisan basis to address these important issues and will continue to advocate for an environment that fosters medical innovation and access to new medicines. We will also continue to work for necessary changes to the Affordable Care Act, such as the repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board.”

Like many health care providers, drugmakers are likely to keep a low profile in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling, given the politically charged nature of the health care debate, said Chris Jennings, former senior health care adviser to President Bill Clinton.

“I think the reaction is quiet relief, but no substantial public embrace or involvement until after the election,” said Jennings, president of Jennings Policy Strategies.

Like insurers, hospital administrators and doctors, Jennings added, drug companies have already invested considerable time, resources and capital into implementing the new health care law. Whatever their complaints, health care providers will hold their tongues until the dust settles, he predicted: “There is going to be plenty of time to reform the reforms.”

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