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Health-Care Lobbying Approaches $100 Million

HEALTH care has unleashed a lobbying battle unparalleled in breadth and cost, whose cost will easily top $100 million this year - and ultimately may go much higher.

The huge spending reflects what's on the line.

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``One-seventh of our economy is up for grabs,'' said Bryant Welch, chief lobbyist for the American Psychological Association.

An informal Associated Press survey of health-care interests and lobbying records shows that spending on advertising, lobbying, polling, telemarketing, public relations, and campaign contributions is already poised to top $100 million this year. Those in the thick of the fight say it may ultimately reach several times that.

While comprehensive totals are unavailable for past lobbying campaigns, veteran observers say health care is eclipsing all previous issue fights.

The biggest spender so far is the Health Insurance Association of America, which has produced $13.5 million in television and radio advertising aimed at raising public misgivings about President Clinton's proposal. ``It's a survival issue for our members,'' said executive vice president Charles Kahn III.

Another group investing heavily is the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, which expects to pour $14 million into the battle this year.

``There will be more money thrown at this bill than any other piece of legislation in history,'' said Ron Pollack, director of Families USA, a group that backs Mr. Clinton's bill. ``The task of the naysayers and special interests is easier, and they've got more money.'' Senate's plodding ways

THE whistle doesn't blow at 5 o'clock in the United States Senate, Sen. John Danforth (R) of Missouri lectured his colleagues last week, in a fiery speech defending lawmakers' reserved airport parking spots.

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But shortly after Senator Danforth claimed senators worked grueling, 80-to 100-hour weeks, the chamber went into one of its frequent stalls. The Senate's own plodding ways appear to play a major role in those long workweeks.

On the day of Danforth's speech, senators who couldn't get their way in changing a bankruptcy bill held up each other's amendments. Sen. David Pryor (D) of Arkansas studied Senate roll calls in 1985 and found that by October of that year, 30 percent were in the evening.

Using a theoretical eight-hour day for his computations, Senator Pryor also discovered that the Senate had spent the equivalent of six weeks in quorum calls and 2 1/2 weeks in roll calls.

No similar study has been done since 1985, but there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that the situation has not improved.

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