By Steve Haner
The following is one of my “revise and extend” follow-up posts, this one adding detail to an exploration of the raging attacks on Republican efforts to offer alternative health insurance plans. You can read the original post on the Jefferson Policy Journal.
Not many months ago, it was a safe bet that by late October the campaign attack ads would focus on utility contributions. There is still time for that to appear. Dominion Energy clearly expected that, as evidenced by a full page, very defensive advertisement in Wednesday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch. Then there is its most cloying television ad yet.
You’ve seen it, of course – the lovely young lady whose Daddy is a deployed Dominion employee. Instead of wearing a U.S. Army or Blue Star cap, she sleeps and poses for school pictures in his Dominion Energy hat. Now, how could a company engendering that kind of love and loyalty be misbehaving?
But the focus is not utility money. No, the 2019 bogeyman is insurance dollars, especially health insurance companies, and other healthcare providers. Sometimes the attack focuses on both, so the attacker can run up the donation total over time into the hundreds of thousands of dollars to bolster the implication of corruption.
“Senator (fill in any name) took $200,000 from health insurance companies (or health care interests). That’s why (he/she) voted to allow them to deny pre-existing conditions.” Something like that is a common theme. Sometimes it adds a complaint that the miscreant voted against Medicaid expansion, ignoring how many of those “healthcare interests” were among the most vocal advocates for that. It’s October – truth is inconvenient.
So, did health insurance companies or other healthcare interests, especially the hospitals, give the bulk of their money to one party? Of course not – the partisan balance is quite typical of other business interests. Only members of one party, the Republicans, are taking that campaign hit. Both sides took, and will continue to take, the dollars.
You have to go to the second page of the Virginia Public Access Project’s “top donors” list for this cycle to find a health care entity, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. It shows $313,000 to Democrats and $304,000 to Republicans. There are twenty donor names per page, so more than 20 other entities gave more than VHHA.
A bit further down the page we find next the Virginia Dental Association. Its list is less balanced, $188,000 to Democrats and $308,000 to Republicans. Medicaid expansion did bring additional work for dentists, and there is a proposal afoot to greatly expand dental benefits under that program. But its dollars are probably being lumped into some of those health care interest groups totals.
Page three of the top donor list brings us to Planned Parenthood at $451,000, which considers itself a healthcare provider, but I doubt the Democrats counted them as tainted dollars. A bit further down is the hospital chain HCA, with a very balanced donation list of $185,000 for Democrats and $195,000 for Republicans. Page five has Roanoke’s Medical Facilities of America, with $102,000 to Democrats and $134,000 to Republicans.
You have to get to page six to find Anthem, the top insurance firm in this field. More than 100 other donors gave more. Its $212,000 would have been real money in past elections, but it’s a rounding error this year. It gave $76,000 to Democrats and $116,000 to Republicans.
VPAP dices the data another way, by industry, and on that healthcare as a whole shows as significant at more than $10 million, about $780,000 of that from the HMO’s and insurance plans. That is picking up individuals and many smaller firms that gave to only one or a few candidates, and it would take a while to do a partisan split. I’m sure some reporter for a mainstream outlet doing a fact check on the attack ads will run the partisan comparisons. Actually, that will never happen and the Democrats knew it.There are currently no comments highlighted.