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Nursing Homes’ Campaign Cash Pays Off

Louisiana Nursing Homes Spend Big on Politicians, Succeed in Blocking Competition


Check out Part I and Part II of our reports on Louisiana's troubled nursing homes


Louisiana’s nursing home industry has long been described as “perhaps the state’s most powerful lobby”, doling out huge sums of cash to candidates and wielding outsize influence in the legislature and executive branch. According to FollowTheMoney.org, nursing homes rank 3rd among Louisiana industries in state campaign contributions, giving over $8.3 million to elect candidates who would look after the interests of the largely taxpayer funded industry. That political spending has paid off, as legislators have repeatedly killed reform efforts that are favored by senior citizens, advocacy groups, and would save the state up to $100 million annually. In fact, not only has the nursing home industry been successful in killing reforms, they’ve consistently seen their taxpayer funding increase, with a $5+ million boost in 2020, on top of the $1.2 billion in taxpayer funding the industry already receives. That funding increase came at the request of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, the center of the industry’s political influence.



Since 2009, the Louisiana Nursing Home Association PAC has collected more than $2 million in donations, mostly from nursing homes and their owners. In that time, the LNHA PAC alone contributed more than $1.7 million to legislative, statewide, local candidates, and PACs. The Louisiana Nursing Home Association has cashed in on their spending to great effect, with a single e-mail from the organization killing a 2 year effort to reform the industry in the last year of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s term, a reform previously championed by Governor Jindal. Records show the Louisiana nursing home industry contributed over $1 million to Jindal’s campaigns, including nearly $800,000 to his gubernatorial campaigns and nearly $400,000 to his Presidential campaign- 5% of his total fundraising in that failed effort.

Gov. John Bel Edwards picked up the mantle of reform during his first election, telling AARP “My commitment is to do everything possible to make sure individuals get to stay in their homes longer, as they want to. Long-term managed care, with a comprehensive model, including nursing homes, is absolutely my goal.” Shortly after his election, Gov. Edwards named Ronald Goux, then the President of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association and a nursing home owner himself, to co-chair his health care transition committee. Contributions from Goux, his family, and his company made up $142,000 of the more than $700,000 in campaign contributions Edwards received for his 2015 campaign and shortly after his first election from the nursing home industry. Despite campaigning on reform, Edwards has changed his tune in office, now expressing concerns about reform, and refusing to take executive action to allow more nursing home patients to receive care at home. In his first year in office, Edwards recorded more meetings with Dan Robin, a lobbyist for the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, than any other individual lobbyist. Once again, investments by the nursing home industry seem to have paid off, with yet another Governor abandoning reforms that would help patients, but harm the nursing homes’ taxpayer funded bottom line. But, the nursing home industry always hedges its bets, and invests heavily in legislators who have power over the industry.


Perhaps emboldened by Governor Edwards’ 2015 promise to pursue reform, as well as multiple state budget crises, legislators repeatedly tried during his first term to move more of Louisiana’s Medicaid population from nursing homes to at-home and managed care. Despite broad support from advocates for seniors, the public, and the huge cost savings for the state, reform bills died in 2016, 2017, and 2018 by lobsided margins in the House and Senate Health & Welfare Committees- sometimes not even receiving a vote. The nursing home industry and Louisiana Nursing Home Association PAC invested heavily in these committee members, with LNHA PAC giving a staggering $155,000 to committee members, nearly $100,000 to House Committee members and over $60,000 to Senate committee members, for an average of over $6,000 per member. This number doesn’t represent the full breadth of nursing home industry influence- as this is just what the Louisiana Nursing Home Association’s PAC gave. Other homes, their owners, and lobbyists have given millions more, as The Advocated reported in its “Profit Over Patients” series. Entities including the name “nursing home” alone have given over $2.6 million to state candidates and PACs.


With an investment like that, some legislators didn’t just play defense for the nursing home industry- they went on the offense against competition. As the 2017 legislative session wrapped up, two Senators, Senate Health & Welfare Chairman Fred Mills and Senator Jay Luneau, attached a last-minute amendment to an unrelated mental health bill that would have extended for 5 years a moratorium on certain assisted living facilities that are often alternatives to nursing homes. Senator Mills, who owns a stake in a nursing home and has received $9,000 from the LNHA PAC, and over $15,000 from nursing home interests, said he brought the amendment at the request of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association. Senator Luneau, who has consistently voted with nursing home interests, has received at least $5,000 from the LNHA PAC and $10,000 from nursing home interests. Despite outcry from some legislators, including the bill author, the nursing home industry once again won, with the bill passing with a one-year moratorium on some alternatives to nursing homes. Then-Representative Jay Morris, objected to the “compromise” and aptly called out the nursing home industry as using political power to limit competition, saying "I believe that because it was the nursing home industry that lobbied for the amendment.”


Everyone knows Louisiana politics is a swamp of trading favors for campaign cash, and many industries spend a lot of money to be very influential in the Capitol. But, as we’ve seen here, perhaps no industry is as effective at using campaign cash to protect their bottom line and eliminate competition. With so much of the nursing home industry’s profit coming from taxpayers, it may be one of the most egregious examples.


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