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Groups spent hundreds of thousands lobbying on Medicaid

The trade group representing Virginia hospitals and the conservative advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, spent heavily on lobbying during their fight over whether to expand Medicaid eligibility, newly filed reports show.

The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, the leading pro-Medicaid expansion advocate during this year's legislative session, said it incurred more than $400,000 in lobbying expenses from May 2013 to April 2014.

Americans for Prosperity, a group that opposes Medicaid expansion and has ties to conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, reported spending more than $470,000 on lobbying during the same period.

The spending is way up for both groups compared to a year earlier. The hospital association reported spending $93,000 and Americans for Prosperity spent $29,000 from 2012 to 2013, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit that tracks money in politics.

The biggest new cost for both groups this year was for advertising. The hospital association reported spending more than $270,000 on communications. The group's senior vice president, Katherine Webb, said it went for statewide radio and social media advertisements.

Americans for Prosperity, which has run radio and television ads attacking Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe for supporting Medicaid expansion, reported spending $225,000 on communications.

Proposed Medicaid expansion was the dominate issue of this year's legislative session. Under the Affordable Care Act states can decide whether to expand Medicaid to able-bodied low income adults, something about half the states have done so far.

The state's hospitals have pushed aggressively for Medicaid expansion, saying it is needed to help cover the cost of the care already being provided to the state's poor.

Most Republican lawmakers and Americans for Prosperity oppose expansion, saying they don't believe the federal government will pay for most of the program and they think the state can't afford a large scale increase of an entitlement program.

Republicans successfully blocked Medicaid expansion during the legislative session and a months-long standoff over the state budget that ended in June. McAuliffe has made expanding federally funded healthcare to the poor a top priority and has vowed to work around the General Assembly.

Seeking to woo GOP lawmakers, the hospital association hired three former high-level aides to former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell. The group reported spending about $100,000 on compensation for in-house and contract lobbyists.

Americans for Prosperity reported spending about $120,000 on compensation for its staff, which knocked on doors, made phone calls and held rallies as part of its effort to block Medicaid expansion. The group also spent $103,000 for "personal living and travel expenses" for its state director, Sean Lansing.

Lobbying disclosure forms had to be filed with the state by July 1. Other filings of note include:

-$42,000 spent by the power company Dominion on entertainment, which includes taking several lawmakers to Washington Redskins games as well as sending two Republican delegates, Virginia Beach's Glenn Davis and Tazewell County's Will Morefield, to attend the Masters golf tournament this spring in Georgia. Dominion has traditionally been one of the biggest donors and gift givers to state lawmakers.

-$74,405 spent on lobbying by the Embassy of Japan, which hired several lobbyists from the firm McGuireWoods in an unsuccessful bid to block a bill requiring new textbooks in Virginia to note that the Sea of Japan is also known as the East Sea. The bill passed after intense grassroots lobbying by Virginia's Korean-American community.


@ more cowbell. You know nothing about me or what I have done to help people. I’m pretty sure I have paid my fair share in taxes. I don’t brag about what I have or how much I pay in taxes but I can assure you it is much more than you have paid. My point is you like to complain about people getting handouts, why don’t you write to Our president and complain to him ? see what kind of response you get from him. I won’t be responding to you anymore because you’re not worth my time.

@grandma, Nobody deserves a free pass, which you condone. There isn’t any reason someone can’t work unless they’re handicapped. My taxes for last year were well over $75K(federal, state and local, personal property), not including sale tax. I donate time and money to many organizations beside working 40-60 hours per week. So, sorry if I come off sounding like such a harsh person to someone that knowingly has 3 kids, doesn’t work and gets free handouts because she gets no support from her family(or father of the kids). Heck, I’ve even put up a homeless family for a month just so they could get back on their feet and lent them my van for a year… I’m sure I’m doing more then you ever did in your life time. I don’t have a problem giving free medical coverage, however I feel they should put in 10-20 hours of work…

@ more cowbell.  Nice to see you mention church. Just because you give/go to church doesn’t make you’re a good person. From the things you post about other people maybe you should consider going to church more often. You sound like a very bitter person. Don’t forget Karma!!

@Fedupdude, You’re a hoot, you know who is on Medicaid, You’re a regular Cliff Claven…...The Loudoun Times know it all. And why didn’t they sign up for Federal Health care? They’d get a subsidy to help cover the monthly health care coverage…
Any chance you’ll donate some of your hard earned money to these people not being covered on expanded Medicaid? just as I thought…

@grandma, I know I pay a lot in taxes, federal, state and locally. And I give a nice % to our church. I’m a USAF vet that has worked very hard, earning degrees and paying for college education and paid for my kids to go to college(no grants or loans). I’m sure you pay very little if any taxes. It’s always the ones that want to give other peoples money to the lazy/poor. And my current job(60-80 hour work weeks) attempts to keep the US safe… Hint hint…By the way, the hard working middle class is paying for the poor to have medical coverage, not just the rich. Not everybody pays Income tax, that’s a fact.

@Grandma, please define “rich”.

@ more cowbell. You should be ashamed of yourself!! Having lots of money doesn’t mean that you are better than the next person. just because a family is living on a low income doesn’t mean they are lazy and it’s none of your business how many children they have. I know lots of people who are having a hard time making ends meet, not because they don’t work, or because they have a lot of children. They know what a hard days work is. You probably haven’t worked a hard day in your life. Everybody pays taxes , even the low income. They deserve to have health care as well as you. Very little of YOUR taxes pays for their health care and I’ll bet you do everything you can so you pay very little in taxes. I really feel sorry for you!!

@more cowbell - You are clueless who is on the system. Most people on expanded Medicaid are working poor who work 2 jobs but still don’t have health care.

Its no mystry what the Koch Bros vested interest is. Up to 2001 their fortunes hung at about 2 billion dollars for two decades; then came the Bush tax cuts and their fortunes have skyrocketed to nearly 100 billion.

If government programs expand or change that threatens their precious tax breaks and loop holes.

@grandma, because the rich worked very hard to save, follow a budget, family planning and put in long hours at work. While the lazy… I mean the poor keep having kids they can’t afford, get locked up for stealing, robbing or doing drugs, spend all their money on expensive cars(which they can’t afford) and never put in a hard day’s worth of work.

How about the poor that need Medicaid, be made to work 20 hours per week(cleaning up trash at rest stops, working at library, filing, data entry) and both mom and dad of kids they can’t afford, get fixed.

Medicaid expansion will happen, sooner or later. Just takes a little time.Then you lobbyist can cry over all that money you wasted. I can’t understand why the rich don’t want the lower income people to have healthcare. Just think, without your money you would be nothing. When you do wrong things( like trying to stop Medicaid expansion)to people, it always comes back to bite you!! Remember that!

This group spends $$$ trying to prevent all Virginians having access to health care…and asks candidates to sign a pledge to always vote against Climate change legislation. 

Story idea: any chance we can get a list of who in Virginia has signed that pledge?

Only shows how corrupt out politicians really are. They represent the lobbyist, not their constituents. Instead of wasting that money on politicians pockets, it could go towards research, pay down debt, medicaid expansion, transportation, eductation….

What’s the story here?  It’s been going on since the founding of this country.  Any time there’s government spending our money, there’s going to be people on both sides trying to influence their decisions.  We can spend less of Lobbyists if stop letting government waste our money.

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