Debt commission members rake in health money

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR | September 7, 2011 | 3:05 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new analysis shows that the health care industry has given generously to the 12 lawmakers on the congressional supercommittee tackling government debt.

A study by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics finds that doctors, drugmakers, hospitals and health insurers have contributed more than $17 million to the panel members since 1989.

Doctors rank among the top 10 sources of campaign dollars for all but two of the supercommittee members. Drugmakers are second.

There's no way to curb federal spending without tackling health care, so those very same industries would get hit hard if the panel succeeds.

The extensive campaign donations are reinforcing doubts that the supercommittee will issue a sweeping plan to rein in Medicare and Medicaid costs.

The panel holds its first meeting Thursday.