Only 15 of top 100 health information technology firms are lobbying on health IT

Many diversified firms have bigger fish to fry

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 Updated:

Despite the more than $27 billion in federal stimulus money for health information technology, many of the top firms in the field are not lobbying for a piece of that pie. An iWatch News  examination of federal lobbying disclosure records from the fourth quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 reveals that 85 of  the largest 100 health IT firms did no lobbying on health information technology issues during that time period. 

Of those 85 listed in Healthcare Informatics magazine’s HCI 100 for 2010, 70 did not report lobbying on any issue between October 1, 2010, and March 31, 2011. Among the businesses opting not to hire any federal representation are Ingenix (the 16th largest health IT company, by sales, in 2010, and recently renamed OptumInsight), The Trizetto Group, Inc. (14th largest), and Epic Systems (the 11th largest). Those three firms’ health IT revenues last year ranged from $460 million to $825 million.

Strange? Perhaps not. Robert Hoffman, a lobbyist for Cognizant (the ninth largest health IT firm, which lobbied on issues including international taxes and comprehensive immigration reform — but not health IT), says that while his company was pleased to be included among the top 100, he was surprised to make the list.

 “Cognizant isn’t a health IT company; we’re an IT company whose clients include the health care industry.”  Health care, he says, is Cognizant’s second largest market after financial services. “We’re not going for federal dollars in the health IT space,” he says, “We may end up partnering with folks who have gotten some federal dollars, but we’re not in any position to lobby for changes in policy… we haven’t had a reason to.”  Though all of the companies on the top 100 are in some way involved in health IT, Hoffman says the list includes software makers, hardware sellers, maintenance companies, and firms like Cognizant with a focus on helping health care providers best manage their health IT efforts.

Ann Richardson Berkey, senior vice president for public affairs for McKesson Corp. (the single largest health IT company in the country in the 2010 rankings) says  that while her company’s lobbying efforts did not focus on health IT issues in recent months, it did make a series of comments for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s administrative rulemaking processes. “That’s not perceived as lobbying” and need not be listed on lobbying disclosure forms, she noted.

A spokeswoman for Epic Systems declined to comment for this story.  Ingenix (OptumInsight) and Trizetto did not respond to a request for comment.

This month, the 2011 HCI 100 was released. Of the 17 companies newly on the list, just two reported any health IT lobbying in the past two quarters.

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