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March 3, 2020

Lobbying Expenditures, Campaign Contributions, and Health Care—Follow the Money

Author Affiliations
  • 1Editor at Large, JAMA Internal Medicine
JAMA Intern Med. 2020;180(5):640-642. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.0145

All the President’s Men, the 1976 film about the Watergate scandal, popularized the phrase “follow the money” as a way to connect the dots between expenditures and outcomes in politics and government. Although the money trail is often informative, it may not provide convincing evidence about the influence of cash on specific election, legislative, and policy outcomes. Nonetheless, it is impossible to understand the influence of industry and interest groups on US health policy without considering the breathtaking sums these organizations spend for lobbying and contributions to political campaigns. The goals are to influence both who gets elected and what they do when they are in office. Not only are the sums large, but they also dwarf the spending of groups representing the interests of patients and consumers. Moreover, industry funding of patient groups is common in the US and other high-income countries, although the corporate support may not be transparent.1

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