Amgen, GSK Lobby on Healthcare as Execs Enjoy Luxury Benefits

Last Updated Aug 4, 2009 4:33 PM EDT

The CEOs of two companies, Amgen and GlaxoSmithKline, that have been top spenders on lobbyists to influence healthcare reform have radically different -- and more luxurious -- healthcare plans than those covering regular Americans.

Amgen's allows executives like CEO Kevin Sharer to receive three years' extra benefits after he leaves the company, and it pays for the tax bill on those benefits.

GSK CEO Andrew Witty can receive "continuing" health and dental benefits after retirement.

That's a stark contrast to the healthcare coverage enjoyed by most Americans. Those with insurance usually find it ends shortly after they leave their jobs. Nearly 50 million Americans have no medical coverage at all.

Amgen spent $6.1 million in the first half of this year lobbying on the healthcare reform package that Congress hopes to present to President Obama. GlaxoSmithKline increased lobbying 27 percent to $2.3 million in Q2 2009, the WSJ reported.

It's not clear whether healthcare reform will pass or what it will look like. The lobbyists got some early victories -- on whether the federal government should be banned by law from negotiating drug prices and on foreign drug reimportation -- but those victories may not stand.

Here are the details on executive healthcare benefits at the two companies.

GlaxoSmithKline: Page 88 of GSK's annual report only discusses healthcare benefits for its executives in terms of former CEO Jean-Pierre Garnier and chairman Moncef Slaoui. But you can figure out that it refers to all the top execs at GSK. It says:
  • ... in line with the policy applicable to US senior executives, Dr Garnier is entitled to receive continuing medical and dental insurance after retirement. Dr Slaoui is a member of the same plan and may become eligible, at a future date, to receive continuing medical and dental cover into retirement.
Of course, Witty is British and thus has access to the U.K.'s National Health Service, where treatment is either cheap or free.

Amgen: At Amgen, Sharer and his team gets this package, according to this SEC filing:
  • a "comprehensive annual physical examination at our expense"
  • a Retiree Medical Savings Account with three times the regular contributions of this formula: "a one-time contribution of $5,000 plus $1,000 in annual core contributions ... up to a maximum of $1,500 in matching funds annually."
  • payments to offset any tax bills levied on the value of the retirement health benefits.
The health packages bear a striking resemblance to those enjoyed by execs at Pfizer and Eli Lilly, who have also been at the forefront of heathcare lobbying.

Image: healthcare reform-haters Harry and Louise. Disclosure: The author has no healthcare coverage.

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