Health Industry Opening Wallets for Key Committee Leadership Candidates

Republicans will likely maintain control of the House in 2016, but the next Congress will see leadership changes to key healthcare oversight committees on both sides of the aisle. That’s already leading to significant spending from the healthcare industry, as lawmakers ramp-up campaigns within their own parties for the top spots.

The midterm election is still five months away and the positions won’t be decided until the weeks after the ballots are counted. But with ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) set to retire at the end of this Congress, competition is heating up to see who will be the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce committee. The same is true for the Ways and Means committee, where chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) is also retiring.

The race for the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee isn’t expected to be close – Rep. Paul Ryan (D-Wisc.) is heavily favored to jump Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who is next in line in seniority, to take the gavel from Camp. But that hasn’t stopped the healthcare industry from giving generously to Brady.

Morning Consult analyzed fundraising data from the Center for Responsive Politics, and found that Brady – not a prolific fundraiser in the past– has increased his campaign fund significantly, in large part thanks to an influx of money from the healthcare industry.

In only 15 months, from the beginning of 2013 through March 2014, Brady’s campaign committee and PAC have already taken in more than they ever have in a full 24-month cycle.

Ways and Means is a critical committee for the healthcare industry, with power over Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. And the industry is giving heavily to the Texas Republican this cycle.

In fact, Brady has already raised more from hospitals, nursing homes, HMOs, pharmaceuticals and health professionals in the last 15 months than he did in the prior six years combined.

Overall, Ryan remains a far more prolific fundraiser, having already pulled in almost $7 million between Jan. 1 of 2013 and March 31 of 2014, compared to Brady’s $1.9 million.

However, only a small portion of Ryan’s money is coming from the healthcare industry, and so far this cycle, he’s seen a decline in the percentage of healthcare contributions he’s received, while Brady has seen a spike.

A spokesman for Ryan said only that he’s “focused only on his work at the House Budget Committee,” and Brady’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Brady is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, so whether he takes the full committee gavel or not, contributing to the Texas Republican will be a low-risk proposition for the healthcare industry.

On the Energy and Commerce committee, Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) are competing to replace Waxman as the ranking member on the panel, which has jurisdiction over large swaths of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid.

Pallone has more seniority than Eshoo, and more money as of now — his failed run against Cory Booker last year to replace former Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, helped add to his campaign coffers. Between Jan. 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, his campaign committee and PAC have pulled in more than $3.4 million, according to a Morning Consult analysis of Center for Responsive Politics data.

That far exceeds the less than $2 million he raised during the entire two-year cycle from 2011 to 2012.

Almost 15 percent of Pallone’s total fundraising so far in this cycle has come from the healthcare industry. Individuals from Roche Holdings and Johnson & Johnson are among his largest donors, as are members of nearly a dozen medical societies, academies or associations, ranging from the American Hospital Association and the American College of Radiology, to the American Optometric Association and American Academy of Family Physicians.

Overall, Eshoo trails Pallone in the first 15 months of the cycle, but the California Democrat is outperforming her previous year’s fundraising. She’s already matched her totals from the 2011 – 2012 cycle, with more than 9 percent of her contributions coming from healthcare industry giants like Gilead, Amgen, Abbvie, and Neuropace.

Pallone may have had a head start, but it’s still early in the cycle and Eshoo’s Peninsula PAC just went live this year. In the first quarter of 2014, her Peninsula PAC beat Pallone’s Shore PAC in receipts, according to a Morning Consult analysis of Federal Election Commission data. The committees are expected to give generously to the reelection efforts of their colleagues, and already Eshoo’s PAC has cut checks to the campaign committees of Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az.), Nick Rahall (R-Az.), Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), and Ami Bera (D-Calif.), among others.

Pallone’s PAC has contributed to the campaign of one of his E&C supporters, Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), as well as many others.

“You should expect to see a lot more of this before November,” said Michael Malbin, the executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute.

One area where the campaign committees aren’t restricted is in how much they can give to the national parties. Pallone and Eshoo have each donated more than $200,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee so far in this cycle.

“You are looking at a two-sided relationship with two-sided expectations,” Malbin said. “Members who want to become committee chairs or ranking members have been pressured by the party leaders to give increasing amounts to their congressional party committees… The leaders make it clear that they expect this of their committee leaders.”

“With these pressures from the leaders, the Members hold more fundraising events,” Malbin added. “To maintain their access to the committee leaders, the lobbyists feel a pressure to give. It is a pressure-fueled cycle that run from the high cost of fighting for majority control, through the party leaders, to the members, and then the policy-demanding lobbyists.”

Morning Consult