Health care fuels first-half lobbying

The State House remains closed to the public, but the business of lobbying on Beacon Hill keeps rolling along, particularly in health care.

According to data gathered by Secretary of State William Galvin’s office, lobbying expenditures remained fairly stable in the first six months of this year, with the same players spending roughly the same amount of money they did a year ago and the year before that.

Health care businesses were the most active, accounting for half of the top 20 spenders. The Massachusetts Health and Hospitals Association spent nearly $440,000 on lobbying over the first six months of the year, followed by the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans ($379,757) and Mass General Brigham ($292,784), the state’s largest hospital system.

Other health care providers in the top 20 were the Massachusetts Nurses Association ($270,904), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts ($266,518), the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health ($188,157), the Massachusetts Medical Society ($185,620), Beth Israel Lahey Health ($183,781), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ($175,000), Massachusetts Senior Care Association ($175,000), Cambridge Health Alliance ($169,608), and Children’s Hospital ($167,784).

Overall, lobbying expenditures by the top 10 spenders in the first half of 2021 were down 4.5 percent, or $128,992, from the same period a year before.

Health care lobbying is entering an intense period this week, with the House set to debate legislation dealing with hospital expansions, which could affect Mass General Brigham’s plans to open ambulatory care centers in Westborough, Westwood, and Woburn. The Senate is taking up mental health legislation, and the Health Policy Commission is advocating for price caps on some of the state’s larger hospital systems.

The top 10 lobbying firms on Beacon Hill saw their revenues rise nearly 5 percent in the first half of the year. Smith, Crawford & Costello retained the No. 1 spot with $2.2 million in fees, followed by O’Neill and Partners at $1.6 million. 

ML Strategies ranked No. 3 at $1.47 million, Tremont Strategies was fourth at $1.4 million, Kearney, Donovan & McGee fifth at $1.39 million, Bay State Strategies sixth at $1.2 million, Murphy Donoghue Partners seventh at $1.1 million, and Suffolk Group eighth at $1 million. 

Dempsey, Lucey, & Associates, headed by Brian Dempsey, the former chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, moved into the top 10 for the first time at the No. 9 spot with just over $1 million in revenues. Many of the firm’s clients are in health care, including Beth Israel Lahey, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and BMC Health. It is also active on sports betting, representing DraftKings, FanDuel, Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the PGA.

Preti Strategies held on to the tenth spot with fees of $949,900, while Rasky Partners fell out of the top 10, dropping to No. 13. 

The highest-paid individual lobbyists during the first six months of the year were Charles Anthony Stefanini, at $361,534, and Dempsey, at $350,000.

 BRUCE MOHL

 

FROM COMMONWEALTH

Waiting for information: Jim Rooney, the president and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, says the business community was caught off guard just like everyone else by the news that the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund may be in far better financial shape than anyone thought. “I’d say we’re confused and waiting for information,” Rooney said. Read more.

Civil commitments: A bill pending in the Legislature would give Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins authority to treat civilly committed people for substance use disorders at the Suffolk County jail. The bill is facing pushback from those who say correctional facilities are not the place to treat people with health problems. Read more.

A Southcoast split: A revised legislative redistricting map keeps Fall River and New Bedford in separate congressional districts. The map now goes to the Legislature for final approval. Read more.

 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

Lawmakers are proposing a number of amendments to the mental health bill the state Senate will take up Wednesday. (Gloucester Daily Times)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

For incoming Boston mayor Michelle Wu now comes the challenge of implementing her ambitious agenda. (Boston Globe) Wu pens an op-ed inviting Bostonians to join her effort to make city government work for all. (Boston Globe) Acting Mayor Kim Janey offers up a list of things she says she accomplished in her eight-month stint in office. (Boston Globe

The Danvers school committee meets privately and takes no action on the superintendent, despite public calls for her to resign or be placed on leave over allegations of racist and sexually abusive behavior by the high school’s hockey team. (Salem News)

While interviewing for a job as interim town manager in Williamstown, former North Adams mayor Tom Bernard says he is at odds with Rep. John Barrett III of North Adams. Bernard claims Barrett threatened him. (Berkshire Eagle)

Delmaria Lopez becomes the first person of color ever elected to the Chicopee City Council. (MassLive)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

This weekend’s COVID numbers show cases are rising again. (MassLive) Outbreaks are reported at jails and correctional facilities. (WBUR)

Southcoast Health CEO Mark Hovan is on leave following his arrest on domestic violence and ammunition-related charges, but some think he needs to be terminated. (New Bedford Light

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Massachusetts is expected to get $9 billion from the infrastructure bill that President Biden signed Monday. (Salem News)

Gov. Charlie Baker seeks more information from the federal government about the arrival of Haitian refugees in Massachusetts. (MassLive)

ELECTIONS

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy is not seeking reelection next year. (NPR)

EDUCATION

The Boston Teachers Union rips state Education Commissioner Jeff Riley for refusing to count all the remote learning days that will accrue during the Curley K-8 School’s 10-day shutdown after a COVID outbreak. (Boston Herald)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was ruled liable in the Sandy Hook shooting defamation case. (NPR)

MEDIA

The Salt Lake Tribune, operating as a nonprofit enterprise, says it is doing well. (Media Nation)