Health

Lobbying spending was up during the first two months of the Kentucky General Assembly’s shorter 2019 session. Some of the top spenders were companies that lobbied on health-related bills.

In total, companies spent $5.02 million in January and February, an eight percent increase from 2017. The second-highest spender was Altria, the parent company of tobacco company Philip Morris. The company spent $69,641.

Altria spokesman David Sutton wrote in an email that most of that money went toward lobbying in favor of a bill that would have raised the minimum age to buy tobacco and e-cigarette/vaping products to age 21. The bill stalled in committee.

The Kentucky Hospital Association came in a close third, spending $69,615. KHA didn’t respond to a request for information on what bills it lobbied on.

The Kentucky Medical Association spent $30,112. KMA Spokeswoman Emily Schott wrote in an email that one of the organization’s big priorities was legislation that requires insurers to create a way to process electronic requests to fill medication. It also requires insurers to have an in-house doctor of the same specialty as the patient’s physician to be the one to review requests for prescriptions or care. That legislation was signed into law on Wednesday.

KMA also supported a bill that bans tobacco products on school grounds. That bill could potentially be up for passage on Thursday.

Other big spenders in January and February include pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson and insurance companies Humana and Anthem.

Lisa Gillespie is WFPL's Health and Innovation Reporter.