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Tobacco Dollars Float to Courtney While Pharmaceutical Industry Backs Brown

Meanwhile, with $10,000 in fresh campaign cash from Philip Morris, Sen. Peter Courtney is the top Oregon lawmaker of the tobacco industry for the second year in a row. FamilyCare also opened its wallet this fall with large donations to health policy leaders.
December 28, 2015

Gov. Kate Brown has raised $42,000 from pharmaceutical companies, nearly three times as much money as all other healthcare-related sources in her 2016 gubernatorial campaign, in a significant shift from her predecessor, Gov. John Kitzhaber.

The drug-company money was led by $10,000 checks from Eli Lilly and Pfizer, as well as $8,000 from the trade group, Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, according to campaign finance records since the end of the 2015 legislative session in July.

The prominent giving could signal a shift in clout and priorities in the healthcare sector in Salem, as Kitzhaber eschewed drug company patronage and tried (and failed) to provide greater control over the high rate of prescription drug use in Oregon, particularly for psychiatric medications dispensed under the Oregon Health Plan, which serves the Medicaid population.

Kitzhaber raised only $9,000 from drug companies in his last governor’s run, and $6,500 of that was from Genentech, which has laboratories in Hillsboro. Kitzhaber instead had strong support from the state’s physician organizations, which partnered with him to set up many of the state’s coordinated care organizations.

Brown has received $5,000 in support from the Oregon Nurses Association and the Oregon Health Care Association, which represents long term care providers.

But this time around, at least one of those doctor’s groups -- Doctors for Healthy Communities, representing a group of Salem physicians, is backing Brown’s chief Republican opponent, Dr. William “Bud” Pierce, with $50,000. The Oregon Medical Association also gave Pierce $3,000.

Pierce’s campaign has so far largely been self-funded, and that $50,000 is one of his biggest outside donations yet.

The other prominent doctor’s groups, as well as the Coalition for a Healthy Oregon, have not yet contributed to either campaign.

Brown has never made healthcare a policy focus, and will not be introducing any healthcare legislation in 2016. Pierce is not only a Salem oncologist; he had been an outspoken member of the Salem doctor’s group before his run for governor.

Brown’s large campaign finance contributions from the drug companies mirror those of the Oregon House Democratic leadership, which for several years have received a disproportionately high share of PhRMA money.

Both House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, and House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, received roughly half of their healthcare campaign funds from pharmaceutical companies. Kotek reported $13,000 to Williamson’s $10,500.

Those totals are offset by $2,500 from the Oregon Nurses Association for Kotek, as well as $5,250 from CCO-related groups such as the Coalition for a Healthy Oregon and $5,000 from the Oregon Health Care Association, which also gave $5,000 to Williamson.

HealthCare Policy Reports

In the healthcare policy and budget committees, the healthcare portfolios were much more balanced between industry players, and two legislators -- Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, the House Health chairman and Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Beaverton, did not report any pharmaceutical money.

Greenlick’s top contributor was the nurses association, with $5,000, while Steiner Hayward, a family physician, reported $2,500 from DaVita Total Renal Care and $1,500 from the Oregon Medical Association. Greenlick also received $1,000 from the hospital association.

On the other hand, Sen. Chip Shields, D-Portland, only reported money from pharmaceutical companies. He raised $3,000 from four drug-company sources, including $1,000 from GlaxoSmithKline, despite not running for re-election.

Monnes Anderson, the Senate Health chairwoman, has announced her campaign for a fourth term in the Oregon Senate in a relatively competitive Gresham seat. For that race, she has raised $38,350 from healthcare players since the end of the session, but only $2,000 from drug companies.

She raised $5,000 from the Oregon Nurses Association, $2,500 from Salem’s Doctors for Healthy Communities, $2,000 from the Oregon Association of Hospitals And Health Systems PAC, and $2,000 from Regence Oregon PAC -- the only legislator yet to report money from the insurer-related fund.

FamilyCare Writes Big Checks

Monnes Anderson notably also received $5,000 this fall from FamilyCare, as the Portland-based CCO has fought for its survival in a battle over payment rates with the Oregon Health Authority. FamilyCare also gave $500 to Greenlick and another $5,000 to Sen. Alan Bates, D-Medford.

In addition to the money that FamilyCare gave directly to legislative campaigns, the CCO is a heavy contributor to the Coalition for a Healthy Oregon, which gave $1,250 each to Monnes Anderson and Rep. Rob Nosse, D-Portland, as well as $2,500 to Bates; Rep. Nancy Nathanson, D-Eugene; Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend; Rep. Cedric Hayden, R-Cottage Grove; and Rep. Bill Kennemer, R-Canby.

Nosse, Kennemer and Hayden all serve on the House Health Care Committee; Knopp sits on the Senate counterpart, while Bates and Nathanson chair the Health and Human Services Budget Committee.

Courtney Top Tobacco Lawmaker

Meanwhile, Sen. Peter Courtney, D-Salem, was the favorite Oregon legislator of the tobacco companies for the second year in a row. Courtney took another $10,000 from Altria Client Services, the parent company of Philip Morris, the largest manufacturer of cigarettes.

The money given to Courtney is still much less than what Altria gave to the Republican caucuses. The House Republicans reported $43,260 and the Senate Republicans took $16,000.

The House Republicans serve as Big Tobacco’s firewall against an increase in tobacco taxes, as at least one of their members would have to defect across the aisle to muster a three-fifths majority.

Altria also gave $4,000 to Courtney’s fellow Democrat, Sen. Betsy Johnson of Scappoose, as well as Republican leader Sen. Ted Ferrioli of John Day and Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Pendleton.

The other Democrats to accept money from the tobacco company are Sen. Floyd Prozanski of Eugene, Sen. Lee Beyer of Springfield and Sen. Arnie Roblan of Coos Bay, who each took $2,000.

Two Republicans charged with shaping healthcare policy, Sen. Jeff Kruse of Roseburg and Sen. Tim Knopp of Bend, also took $2,000 from the cigarette manufacturer.

Another growing source of campaign money affecting health is the Oregon Soft Drink Association, which has successfully fought off taxes on soda pop, one of the leading causes of obesity. Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, has tried in the past to get a tax on soda pop passed, but the clout of the lobby has been so strong he didn’t try in 2015.

Kotek took $6,000 from the soft drink association as well as $5,000 from the American Beverage Association, and Williamson reported $5,000. On the Republican side, Knopp took $5,000 from the trade group.