Last year, when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was battling to win the Democratic primary, his campaign solicited a donation from the Greater New York Hospital Association, according to a recent report from The New York Times. The hospital lobbying group gave over $1 million to the New York State Democratic Party. And not long after, according to the Times, “the state quietly authorized an across-the-board increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates.” The increase is expected to cost taxpayers around $140 million a year.
The hospital lobby is a juggernaut in New York, as it is in other states. Over the last year, hospital lobbyists have fought reforms for billing transparency in Ohio, minimum nurse staffing levels in Illinois, and cheaper payment rates in North Carolina. Last month, a leaked email from the Kentucky Hospital Association showed that it was urging members to donate to gubernatorial candidates to “assure access.”
In Washington, D.C., the hospital lobby is battling Medicare for All as well as efforts to end surprise billing, which is when Americans go to in-network providers but then — surprise! — end up getting billed for more expensive, out-of-network services. Three-quarters of Americans say they oppose the practice, and leaders from both political parties have been working to end it. Yet, hospital lobbyists are making reform really difficult. Which is weird, because most hospitals are nonprofits.