A greater share of hospitals' and nursing homes' political contributions have gone to Democrats in 2020 than in recent election cycles, according to campaign finance disclosures.
The spending favoring Democrats comes as polls show they are likely to hold the House of Representatives and have a fighting chance to take the Senate. Big provider lobbying groups have also spent on behalf of candidates in both parties positioned to gain power, and some who are physicians.
Overall, hospitals and nursing homes have spent $81.7 million in the 2020 election cycle, and 70% of total candidate contributions went to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets tool. That's a significantly higher percentage than in previous cycles: 58% went to Democrats in 2018, and 52% in 2016.
The Greater New York Hospital Association was by far the biggest spender with $9 million contributed almost entirely to Democrats, followed by Mass General Brigham — formerly Partners HealthCare — with $1.7 million and the American Hospital Association with $1.3 million.
In the presidential race, the healthcare provider sector gave Biden $12.6 million compared with $4.3 million to Trump. Twelve of the top 20 Senate candidates hospitals and nursing homes donated to this cycle were Democrats.
Besides directly contributing to candidates, political groups also spend independently on candidates' behalf.
The American Hospital Association has spent in support of several strategically important candidates of both parties. AHA spent $400,000 for Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who holds one of two Senate seats that Democrats are in danger of losing this cycle.
AHA also invested in two races of House members who are likely to gain more power in 2021: Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), a contender to be the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who is next in line of seniority to be ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee after Rep. Greg Walden's (R-Ore.) retirement.
The nation's biggest hospital association also gave House Ways & Means Chair Richard Neal a nearly $500,000 boost during a tough primary fight against a progressive challenger. Neal has pushed hospitals' policy priorities during the debate on banning surprise medical bills.
Neal also got $43,000 from the American College of Radiology. The group donated $25,000 to Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), who fought for an arbitration mechanism hospitals supported to be added to surprise billing legislation.
The American Medical Association spent $325,000 to support Democratic House candidate Dr. Cameron Webb, a general internist who serves as the director of health policy and equity at the University of Virginia's School of Medicine. He previously served in the Obama White House and was a legislative extern for the AMA in 2011. Webb is running for a seat currently held by a Republican, and prominent election handicapper Cook Political Report gave the race its most competitive rating.
In a similar move, the American College of Emergency Physicians spent $30,000 to support Dr. Rich McCormick, a Republican House candidate in Georgia for an open seat currently held by the GOP. McCormick is an emergency department doctor, and his campaign website says he views socialism as "the next fight facing America." McCormick is facing tougher odds, as Cook Political Report rated the race as leaning in favor of Democrats.
Campaign finance data cited are current as of Oct. 28.