Democrats win largest share of hospital, nursing home donations
In the final sprint to Election Day, hospitals and nursing homes ramped up their share of Democratic campaign contributions by more than 31 percentage points, according to analysis from the Center for Responsive Politics. That shift came Oct. 1 to Oct. 17, the most recent pre-general election period to file to the Federal Election Commission, and represents an increase from the first 21 months of the 2018 election cycle.
Democrats have taken in the majority share of provider groups' campaign dollars for the past few cycles, and 2018 was no exception. But the midterm data this year shows a key interest in the makeup of the Senate.
The lion's share of spending went to Senate Democrats or Democratic candidates, indicating that providers are keeping a close eye on the political map of the upper chamber, where major healthcare issues will play out next year.
The spending data published on the Center's OpenSecrets website signal that the hospital industry—in the throes of legal battles with the Trump administration over the 340B drug discount program and cuts to Medicare payments for outpatient clinics—is hoping for allies in Congress, particularly since aides and lobbyists are gearing up for a potential political battle over a continued delay of Obamacare's disproportionate-share hospital cuts. The most recent delay expires next September.
Of the top 10 recipients of hospital and nursing home cash this cycle, only one—House Speaker Paul Ryan, who retires this year—is a Republican. The rest are Democrats.
Coming in No. 1 for provider contributions is current Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) who has made waves with his long-shot challenge to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). In order, he is followed by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).
Three of these five incumbents are running tight toss-up races. Brown, McCaskill, Casey, Nelson and Stabenow each sit on the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over healthcare financing.
After Ryan, the highest-dollar recipient is Philip Bredesen, Tennessee's former Democratic governor who is in a close race with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) for the seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Bob Corker. Next comes Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) who is in a similarly tight race for the seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
As an industry sector, hospitals and nursing homes had one of the three largest money swings in the first half of October. For that period, the total Democratic share of the industry's contributions increased from 55% of total spending to 86%.
Each group weighted its contributions differently. The biggest hospital spender this cycle was the Greater New York Hospital Association, which funneled nearly 75% of its $224,204 in candidate contributions to Democrats and the rest to Republicans; it also contributed $5 million to outside spending groups. The American Hospital Association is the second-highest contributor, at $1.5 million, contributing nearly 58% to Democrats versus just over 42% to Republicans.
The nursing home lobby, the American Health Care Association, contributed 63% of its funding to Democrats versus 37% for Republicans.
Individual Democratic senators overall received an average of $73,000 this cycle from provider groups, versus the Republican senators' average of $24,500.
In the House the distribution was more even: Democratic lawmakers received an average contribution of $16,818 versus the Republican average of $15,417.
For up-to-the-minute results on election night, visit Modern Healthcare's 2018 Midterm Elections Tracker.
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