Sen. Bun­ning, your friends at the AMA are not amused,

Modern Healthcare - - News -

Here’s one for the “Thanks a lot, pal” file: Ken­tucky GOP Sen. Jim Bun­ning, who is—de­pend­ing on your point of view—cred­ited or blamed for per­son­ally block­ing the pro­posed “doc fix” for a few days last week, won re-elec­tion in 2004 thanks in no small part to the fi­nan­cial sup­port he re­ceived from the health­care in­dus­try and the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion.

Thanks to Bun­ning’s lonely fil­i­bus­ter­ing, Congress wasn’t able to stave off a 21.2% Medi­care pay­ment cut that kicked in March 1. Fol­low­ing a wave of neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity, Bun­ning ne­go­ti­ated some con­ces­sions and re­lented, al­low­ing the short­term fix to be passed on March 2.

Still, the same AMA that railed against the Se­nate on Feb 26, say­ing, “It is shock­ing that the Se­nate would aban­don our most vul­ner­a­ble pa­tients, mak­ing them the col­lat­eral dam­age of their pro­ce­dural games,” through its po­lit­i­cal action com­mit­tee, gave Bun­ning three $5,000 do­na­tions in 2004, ac­cord­ing to the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion Web site. It also says the Amer­i­can Hospi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion gave $7,500; and the Paducah, Ky.-based Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of In­ter­ven­tional Pain Physi­cians PAC gave $10,000. Thou­sands more were given to Bun­ning by oph­thal­mol­o­gists, os­teopaths, oto­laryn­gol­o­gists, plas­tic sur­geons and po­di­a­trists (and that’s just the Os and the Ps!). The Web site cam­paign­money.com notes that the AMA gave $74,625 to the Ken­tucky Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion’s po­lit­i­cal arm—then called the Ken­tucky Ed­u­ca­tional Med­i­cal PAC—though it doesn’t say which can­di­date the money went to.

The Web site opense­crets.org re­ports that the top con­trib­u­tors to Bun­ning’s cam­paign were “health pro­fes­sion­als” with $194,883 from in­di­vid­u­als and $141,948 from PACs, and “in­sur­ance” with $88,899 from in­di­vid­u­als and $232,072 from PACs. Were they ral­ly­ing around Bun­ning so he could de­feat some am­bu­lance-chas­ing trial lawyer? Nope. Bun­ning’s op­po­nent was state Sen. Dan Mon­gia­rdo, who’s now lieu­tenant gov­er­nor.

Mon­gia­rdo, a throat sur­geon, in­censed the med­i­cal com­mu­nity when he voted against a cap on puni­tive dam­ages in mal­prac­tice cases.

In the end, Bun­ning, a mem­ber of base­ball’s Hall of Fame, de­feated Mon­gia­rdo by a 22,819-vote mar­gin, 51% to 49%.

Health pro­fes­sion­als may be re­gret­ting their do­na­tions to Bun­ning.

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