Health care interests representing hospitals, providers and insurers continue to spend the most to influence Maryland legislators and state officials, paying out $4.5 million to lobby this past session, according to figures compiled by Common Cause from State Ethics Commission filings.
The result is not a surprise given the state’s heavy role in both regulating and paying for health care, which makes up over $12 billion (31%) of the total state budget, including federal funds.
“The major lobbies at the legislature remained mostly the same in 2015 – health care spent the most, followed by energy, development and business,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland. But the amount they spent — $18 million — went up by almost $2 million this year.
Bevan-Dangel said the increasing amount of money spent on professional lobbying represents a challenge to the ability of individual citizens to make their voices heard in Maryland lawmaking.
According to Common Cause’s analysis, available here in full, the 11 industries that spent over $500,000 included:
- Health Care – $4,577,747
- Utility and Energy Companies – $1,959,322
- Development Companies and Organizations – $1,554,958.
- Business Groups (chambers, retail, and other industries) – $1,112,659
- Gambling Companies – $930,419
- Telecom Industry – $816,139
- Other – $615,366
- Universities – $558,505
- Education Organizations – $514,499
- Automobile Industry – $511,037
Common Cause listed these other highlights:
- Uber Technologies, the tech service that enlists car owners to provide rides, emerged as a player in the lobbying scene, spending $127,139 to get a bill supporting Uber’s business practices passed last session.
While just two employers had spent over $300,000 by this time in 2014, that number increased to six this year. Sixteen spent over $200,000 and 58 spent over $100,000.
- The highest spending employer was Maryland State Education Association at $446,242.
- Ten new health care lobbyist employers have emerged since 2013.
- Gun regulation has disappeared as a lobby issue.
- Ten major industries have decreased overall spending since 2013 (gambling, education, religious, retail, insurance, union, tobacco, waste, manufacturing and defense), but others have more than compensated for their decline.
The ethics report lists employers that reported at least $50,000 in lobbying expenses, as well as lobbyists with $50,000 or more in lobbying income, from Nov. 1, 2014 through April 30, 2015.
|Top Ten Earning Lobbyists||Amount|
|$904,350.00||Harris Jones, Lisa|
|$688,088.22||Boston, III, Frank|
|$648,856.00||Wise, J. Steven|
Common Cause Maryland analyzed the list, categorizing 177 employers into 27 broad industry categories.
Lobbying dollars probably aren’t the most significant means of influencing state health policy. DHMH maintains an alphabet soup of boards and commissions whose mandates have materially expanded during the last six years. Several new ones were created for Obamacare implementation
These boards and commissions do the state’s policy investigations and formulate policy even though most of their members are private-sector experts who are not adequately vetted for conflicts of interest.