It’s the fourth of what promises to be a continuing series of diatribes to my snail mail box, but instead of extolling the (so-called) virtues of my incumbent State Senator Jim Mathias, it makes a series of claims about his challenger, Delegate Mary Beth Carozza.
This was a very easy (if somewhat time-consuming) one to address, given that Jim Mathias has taken oh-so-much PAC money over the years. So much so, as a matter of fact, that the majority of PAC donation money that goes to Mary Beth – the same groups also give to Mathias.
And the funny thing about the bill that is cited on this particular mailing (a bill that supposedly stabilizes the health care market by continuing a fee put in place under Obamacare for the federal level as a state-supporting fund) is that Jim Mathias was one of those who voted for a bill that CareFirst essentially admitted to writing, (See the testimony for SB387, which starts at about the 1:30:00 mark here.) And wouldn’t you know it – over the last four years Mathias has had four donations (8/13/15, 12/30/15, 12/15/16, and 4/30/18) totaling $2,000 from a CareFirst PAC. That same PAC did not donate to Carozza.
In fact, there are a total of 18 PACs which have donated to both candidates over the last four years that the pair were in office:
- ABC Metro Washington PAC (construction) – $2,850 to Mathias (6 occasions), $1,250 to Carozza (4 occasions)
- ABC of Chesapeake Shores PAC (construction) – $3,750 to Mathias (6 occasions), $2,500 to Carozza (6 occasions)
- Association of Maryland Pilots PAC – $1,750 to Mathias (7 occasions), $700 to Carozza (3 occasions)
- Bankers PAC – $3,250 to Mathias (8 occasions), $350 to Carozza (2 occasions)
- Banking Services Corporation – $2,000 to Mathias (2 occasions), $100 to Carozza (1 occasion)
- Comcast Corporation – $1,750 to Mathias (5 occasions), $250 to Carozza (1 occasion)
- EpicPharm PAC – $4,000 to Mathias (9 occasions), $750 to Carozza (3 occasions)
- Farm Bureau PAC – $2,500 to Mathias (1 occasion), $900 to Carozza (1 occasion)
- Health Policy Leadership Alliance – $500 to Mathias, $150 to Carozza (1 occasion apiece)
- HFAM Maryland Nursing Home PAC – $4,750 to Mathias (9 occasions), $350 to Carozza (2 occasions)
- Hospital Association PAC Maryland – $4,200 to Mathias (8 occasions), $150 to Carozza (2 occasions)
- Medical PAC Maryland – $900 to Mathias, $550 to Carozza (4 occasions apiece)
- Motor Truck Association PAC (MMTA PAC) – $1,250 to Mathias (5 occasions), $250 to Carozza (1 occasion)
- Poultry PAC – $7,000 to Mathias (10 occasions), $1,650 to Carozza (4 occasions)
- Realtors PAC – $3,340 to Mathias (13 occasions), $1,428 to Carozza (6 occasions)
- Retail Merchants Association PAC – $500 to Mathias (3 occasions), $500 to Carozza (2 occasions)
- Southern Maryland Electric/Choptank Electric PAC (and direct donations) – $1,625 to Mathias (8 occasions), $300 to Carozza (4 occasions)
- Wicomico County FOP Lodge 111 PAC (police) – $500 apiece in one donation
As you can see, in a head-to-head comparison Mathias is the king of special interest PAC money. Also, if you are keeping score, since Mary Beth’s November 2017 announcement that she would be seeking Jim’s seat, only the ABC of Chesapeake Shores, EpicPharm PAC (to both), Medical PAC (to both), Poultry PAC (to both, but mainly to Mathias), and Retail Merchants Association PAC have contributed to Mary Beth’s coffers. They know who sides with their interests over those of the people being represented.
In fact, there are only a small handful of PACs and large corporations which have donated only to Carozza, and all of these were prior to the announcement of her Senate run:
- AmerisourceBergen (drug distributor) – $250 in May 2014 (Note: I didn’t check Mathias back that far.)
- Anheuser Busch (Big Beer) – $1000 in two donations, July 2014 and July 2015
- IFAPAC – Maryland (insurance and financial advisers) – $500 in two donations, January 2016 and May 2017
- Marathon Petroleum Corporation – $250 in May 2014
- Maryland Standardbred PAC (horse industry) – $250 in January 2017
Perhaps the most interesting donation to Carozza is The Presidential Coalition, LLC – a $6,000 contribution from the group behind Citizens United that’s relatively recent.
On the other hand, I don’t have space to list all the 150-plus special interest groups who have given Mathias money over the last four years – it’s a smorgasbord of unions, Baltimore-centered interests (don’t they have enough representation on the General Assembly already?), firefighters (think the lobby that supports costly residential sprinklers on new construction), those connected to the renewable energy boondoggle, and… Big Insurance.
So let me quote from the photo below:
Drug and insurance companies have all given lavish campaign contributions to back Carozza’s campaigns.
After benefiting from all that money, she voted their way again and again – against Governor Hogan’s efforts to stabilize health care costs for premiums, co-pays, and prescription drugs.
Between PACs and companies, Big Insurance has put well over $10,000 into the Mathias coffers over the last four years – and that doesn’t count local insurance companies. And if you consider AH Pharma, Amgen. Astellas Pharma, Caremark Rx, Eli Lilly, Genentech, LifeSpan, Pfizer, and Walgreens as part of Big Pharma, you’ll be interested to know their “lavish” campaign contributions are nearly tenfold ($9,850) the $1,000 total Mary Beth received from those interests in that timespan.
So whose vote seems to be up for sale in this case? And who is really contributing to keeping health care in Maryland a mess?
So let’s talk about “voting their way.” In terms of the bill that Mary Beth (as well as most other Republicans) voted against – but was signed by Governor Hogan anyway – I would contend that she didn’t vote the way of the insurance companies (who, as I noted above, basically wrote the bill for other reasons.)
Not only did it maintain a tax of sorts on insurers and other entities, the bill went against an effort to open up the market for “association health plans” and expanded the role of an existing commission to consider the following:
(i) the components of one or more waivers under § 9-1332 of the Affordable Care Act to ensure market stability that may be submitted by the state; (This was a waiver they indeed received, until 2023.)
(ii) whether to pursue a standard plan design that limits cost sharing;
(iii) whether to merge the individual and small group health insurance markets in the state for rating purposes;
(iv) whether to pursue a basic health program;
(v) whether to pursue a Medicaid buy–in program for the individual market;
(vi) whether to provide subsidies that supplement premium tax credits or cost–sharing reductions described in § 1402(c) of the Affordable Care Act; and;
(vii) whether to adopt a state–based individual health insurance mandate and how to use payments collected from individuals who do not maintain minimum essential coverage, including use of the payments to assist individuals in purchasing health insurance.
This was a monoblogue Accountability Project vote, and Mary Beth voted the correct way, Unlike the assertion on the flyer, this bill is bad for families and senior citizens. But we’re stuck with both this “temporary” fee (which became superfluous when the Section 1332 waiver was granted by the federal government in August) and the mandate of the committee that will certainly recommend expanded government influence rather than common-sense solutions to open up the insurance market and allow those who need insurance to tailor it more closely to their needs. And who doesn’t think that this fee will become more than “temporary?”
The only one making a mess of health care is the member of the party best known for doing just that with Obamacare. Sp what untruths and distortions are coming up next?
And as I’ve often said: if you want to start getting into the weeds on floor votes, I have plenty of them – trust me.