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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The health care industry has dramatically increased its federal lobbying under President Trump, and it has paid off for those companies.

Why it matters: The influence economy has only gotten bigger over the past three years, despite Trump's calls to "drain the swamp." Lobbying expenses have soared, and in the process, the health care industry has largely gotten what it wanted in Washington.

Axios analyzed the federal lobbying reports of 60 health care companies and trade organizations from 2014 through 2019 — the last three years of the Obama administration, and the first three years of Trump's.

  • These 60 entities are among the largest trade groups and companies based on revenue.

What we found: The 60 groups in this analysis spent a collective $309 million on federal lobbying in 2019,

  • Lobbying among these 60 groups soared 10% in 2017. Spending then grew more slowly in 2018, before jumping another 9% this past year.
  • The pharmaceutical industry — and specifically its main trade group, PhRMA — have spent the most money by far on lobbying under Trump, as both he and Democrats have called out the industry's pricing tactics.
  • STAT has a more granular look at drug companies' lobbying.

How it works: The lobbying apparatus isn't just about fending off proposals that threaten health care's lucrative system.

  • Lobbyists also have helped score new industry victories under Trump, like the tax law that immediately boosted profits for many health care companies, or the year-end package that repealed a handful of ACA taxes.

Between the lines: The $309 million these groups spent lobbying last year is, for them, a bargain.

  • There's a lot these figures don't cover, including dues to trade associations and state-level lobbying.
  • But take Pfizer, the single biggest spender among health care companies. Even if you tripled its $11 million total to account for those other expenses, you'd end up at a mere 0.06% of Pfizer's $52 billion of expected 2019 revenue — or roughly four months of U.S. Lipitor sales.

These figures also don't reflect campaign contributions — another very important source of leverage, especially for drugmakers.

Go deeper: See the entire analysis

Go deeper

Complaint to FTC: Amazon search results full of potentially deceiving ads

Photo: Nigel Kirby/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Amazon does not sufficiently distinguish between its search results and paid ads, potentially "deceiving millions of consumers," according to a complaint filed to the Federal Trade Commission.

Why it matters: Joan Moriarty, research director for the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of labor unions that filed the complaint, told the Washington Post the group is "very hopeful" that the FTC will investigate the complaint because Lina Khan (D), a known Amazon critic, is now chair.

2 hours ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.