Yesterday, Dan Christensen had a report in The Miami Herald about two Florida Congressmen who are also brothers, Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, receiving $7,100 and $3,000 respectfully from a Maryland company weeks and days before they signed on to be cosponsors of a bill prized by the company — the Hanger Orthopedic Group (HOG), a Bethesda, Md., -based prosthetics company, is pushing the Group Health Plan Prosthetics Parity Act (H.R. 5615). The bill would broaden insurance coverage for its products (artificial limbs), putting them on par with other medical coverage. Christensen reports that the manufacturing of prosthetics is a $2.5 billion industry, but private insurance companies currently cap the benefits. According to the Center for Responsive Politics’ Influence and Lobbying database, HOG has spent $70,000 so far in 2008 lobbying Congress, and $130,000 since last summer on this issue, according to The Herald.
Christensen writes that the Diaz-Balarts are curious sponsors since they have not traditionally championed health care issues in Congress, and neither is on the committee where the bill was referred. He did mention that the company was in need of Republican cosponsors, and one of the brothers had an interest in helping children amputees in the Ukraine. Oh, and both brothers are also facing tough reelection races which probably means they need to raise more money than they ever have before. A campaign spokesperson for both brothers said there was no connection between the campaign contributions and their support of the bill.
Hat Tip: War and Piece blog.