Hospitals and Doctors’ Groups Spend More Than $1 million on Elections

Three doctor’s groups, including the Coalition for a Healthy Oregon, have combined to spend more than $900,000 in Oregon elections.

Oregon’s hospitals are making another big play on the outcome of Oregon’s elections and the shape of the 2017 Legislative session through the Oregon Hospital Political Action Committee, which has spent $352,000 in the 22 months since the beginning of last year, including $284,000 directly on Oregon political races.

Although a large sum, that number is down from the $454,000 spent in the last election cycle.  But it’s up significantly from the amount the hospital PAC spent in 2011 and 2012 -- $283,000, according to the campaign finance database administered by the Oregon Secretary of State.

The hospital money is dwarfed by the money flowing from three physicians groups that have helped administer the Oregon Health Plan. Collectively, these three groups -- Coalition for a Healthy Oregon, Doctors for Healthy Communities and Douglas County Physicians -- spent $907,000.

The hospitals and doctor’s groups are heavily involved in the coordinated care organizations, which provide health care for people on the Oregon Health Plan. The CCO structure has been the topic for reforms, as have the hospitals use of charity care, which has fallen sharply with the rise of people served by Medicaid, many of whom had been uninsured before the Affordable Care Act.

The hospital PAC has spent most heavily on party leaders and the legislators who are charged with making the laws that govern the hospitals.

Sen, Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, the vice-chair of the Senate Health Committee, was their top recipient with $13,000, followed by Rep. Nancy Nathanson, D-Eugene, with $12,000. Nathanson has been the co-chair of the budget subcommittee for health and human services, and is expected to become the new House budget chair next session.

Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, a strong ally of the hospitals and Oregon Health & Science University in particular, took in $10,000. His House counterpart, Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, took $8,500. Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, received $8,000, the same amount as Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, the Senate budget chairman.

The hospital PAC gave $7,000 each to House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland and Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose. Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, a physician and a member of the House Health Committee, received $6,500.

Several politicians got $6,000, including House Health Chairman Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, the vice-chair of that committee, Rep. Rob Nosse, D-Portland; Senate Health Chairwoman Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham; Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, D-Portland; House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Prineville; and Rep. Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, who’s expected to fill Nathanson’s old post on the health budget subcommittee.

Healthy Doctors -- a Salem outfit -- raised the most of the three doctor’s groups, $338,000, led by hometown favorite and local physician Dr. Bud Pierce for governor, with $100,000. The group split their biggest donation for state legislators between McLane and Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, who’s trying to hold onto a close Senate seat on the Coast. Each got $7,750.

Close behind was Devlin with $7,250 and Monnes Anderson with $7,000. The group was also a longtime supporter of the late Sen. Alan Bates, D-Medford, who also received $7,000 before his death in August.

The Coalition for a Healthy Oregon spent $333,000, led by $19,000 on Roblan’s campaign, and $17,250 on Rep. Caddy McKeown, the House Democrat from Coos Bay. Both races are challenged by an upsurge in blue-collar white voters going for Donald Trump.

The coalition spent $15,250 on Nathanson’s campaign and $8,750 to Rep. Cedric Hayden, R-Cottage Grove, the ranking Republican on the House Health Committee. They also gave $8,750 to Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, who sits on the Senate Health Committee.

The third group, Douglas County Physicians, spent $236,000. The top recipient from the Roseburg doctors was Devlin, with $10,500. Knopp received $8,000, while McLane, Hayden and Rep. Bill Kennemer, R-Canby, each took in $7,750.

Chris can be reached at [email protected].

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