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Alaska lawmakers took big bucks from a hospital trade group, and then voted accordingly

Alaska members of the House of Representatives have been tangling over a number of patients’ rights amendments to a telehealth bill that the governor has requested.

Their votes on Sunday night lined up almost exactly according to how they have been funded by ASHNHA, the Alaska statewide association of hospitals, nursing homes, and healthcare partners. 

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For example, many of those who voted against an amendment to allow patients to have an advocate in their hospital room with them received campaign funds from ASHNHA.

Listen to the debate segment, featuring opposite points of view — Rep. Zack Fields arguing for the bureaucracy, and Rep. David Eastman arguing for patients and families — here:

Amendment Four passed 20-16, against ASHNHA’s wishes. If it stood, it would guarantee hospitals must allow a patient to have an advocate with them in ths hospital.

That’s when Democrats, such as Rules Chair Bryce Edgmon, said the entire bill was now too flawed to proceed, and Speaker Louise Stutes sent it back to Rules Committee to have that provision stripped out of it.

Here are the members of the House who received campaign contributions from ASHNHA in 2020. ASHNHA opposes this provision to allow patients to have their advocates with them:

Now, here is how the vote went down on Amendment 4, the rights of patients to have a family member or advocate with them, within parameters, while they are being cared for by the medical establishment. Most members who received funds from ASHNHA voted the way ASHNHA wanted them to — against the amendment.

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Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.


    • Pretended acts of legislation are always the modus operandi of tyrants. Time to toss of tyranny. NOTICES TO CURE to the offender(s) and written protests to the legislature asking for inquiry and remedy – removal from office for maladministration. Send courtesy copies to “Congress” if they still operate and the Commander in Chief and Secret Service.

  1. Alaska’s Lobbyist Directory shows the Alaska State Hospital & Nursing Home Association pays a state lobbyist $42,000 annually for “All Administrative and Legislative activities regarding or impacting health care policy or funding.”
    So, no worries. The Stutes’ll get the Association what it wants… this is business… so much money and power at stake with China flu, patients’ babble about advocates can’t be allowed to interfere with business.
    This ain’t good… at least 16 legislators, more than 25% of Alaska’s legislature, despise their people enough to throw ’em under the bus if a godda…(hey!) lobbyist’ll pay them to do it.
    What might be good is this looks more and more like a target-rich environment for an opposition research outfit, if conservative fundraisers are wondering what to do with their money.

  2. Why would I rather be learning the walk of Christ and hang out in the church crowd, it’s because of people like the 16. They make a Lot decision, they looking out only for themselves.
    A sick patient isn’t in their right mind, they need at least one clear headed family member, close friend, or trusted professional personal friend like pastor or employer looking over their care plan. The patient’s body is too tired internally fighting to make itself well than for their brain think about outside business.

    • Just like Lot in the Bible. Even the “friends” turned on him. Lot wasted his time compromising with people who turned on him anyway.

  3. Nowhere else in America can you buy honor so cheaply, and find those so willing to sell theirs, than in the Alaskan state house.

    • Well, Captain Cook’s cartographer or botanist (I can’t remember which and I read the document in the Loussac library which had a horrible flood in the Alaska collection) said that the people along the coast in southwest would sell each other out for a mere bauble. Sad really. They needed and still do need Jesus. Remember when the birds got into the library? That was interesting. Now if only the public felt welcome…

  4. Everyone should go to the site “Alaska Lobbyist Directory” and peruse the rogues’ gallery. Do a little “back of the matchbook” math and see how much these people get paid to influence 60 people who aren’t particularly smart.

    I know many of them, dealt with them when I was with the State, and worked with several of them in the Executive Branch or during my time working for the Legislature. I even hired and promoted one of them and launched her on her rocket to stardom in State government. None of them have any particular subject matter expertise. What they do have is being well enough known in the Capitol that doors will open for them and phone calls will get answered or returned. Fifteen years or so ago, I could have gotten in any door any of them could, at least on the Republican side of the aisle, and Democrat doors weren’t entirely closed to me. In the early years after I retired I did a good bit of consulting and some of that was a lot like lobbying, and I even registered as a lobbyist for a short time, but it was way too much like whoring for my comfort, so I never did much of it. The money can be nice, but I like looking straight into the mirror.

    If you go through the list and look at the value of the contracts, some of the money can be dizzying; the money that some of these people admit to making is astounding; Their real power though isn’t really the money that they could flash on their own. A well connected lobbyist can get a well-heeled “friend,” as that word has meaning in the political world, to put on a fundraiser inviting the friend’s friends to somewhere in the high-rolling hills, bundle $20K, $30K or more and put it in a legislator’s coffers; the lobbyist’s fingerprints aren’t on it unless you’re enough of an insider to know who is friends with who, and all the individual contributions are within legal limits.

    The poster above references the $42K that a lobbyist gets paid by the Hospital and Nursing home association. That’s peanuts. I know the name; it think he was a one-time director or deputy commissioner in DHSS, but if you look a little further you find that some group pays him $200K to lobby on their behalf, and it is a good bet the interests overlap. Lots of interests hide behind LLCs to make it harder to figure out just whose money is at work.

    Too bad tar and feathers are out of fashion.

    • The Republican Party social conservative campaign war chests are overflowing with oil money and Dunleavy was funded by his brother who made a fortune screwing PG&E customers. Anyone who believes the SB 3006 amendments were pro business is not a true Republican

    • Really impressive to see the whole Directory as an Excel spreadsheet.
      Special interest line items outnumber legislators 7 to 1, hence our well worn sobriquet: “lobbyist-legislator team”.
      Added up, the 429 special interests pay about $20M+ annually to lobbyists.
      Works out to about $333,333 per legislator.
      Sure and $42K is peanuts. So were the 30 pieces of silver way back in the day, but do we not remember less the amount than the treachery it symbolizes.
      Sad, cynical point is this: for nearly every cause or crisis du jour, just stick and a key word in your Lobbyist Directory and voilà… who paid whom how much to make a crisis only a brand new law and tax can fix.
      Peanuts? We’re all Charley Browns pathetically hoping our lobbyist-legislator Lucys won’t yank the football from us this time, laughing their asses off while we fall flat on ours… again?
      Tar and feathers might be out of fashion, but one might be forgiven for wondering whether Alaska’s brand new Afghan imports would share a few trade secrets.

  5. Well, Captain Cook’s cartographer or botanist (I can’t remember which and I read the document in the Loussac library which had a horrible flood in the Alaska collection) said that the people along the coast in southwest would sell each other out for a mere bauble. Sad really. They needed and still do need Jesus. Remember when the birds got into the library? That was interesting. Now if only the public felt welcome…

  6. Can’t say I am surprised. Both bills should have been passed the same day they arrived, being non-controversial. Oh, I forgot, the governor sent them over. Must let them die so he can be blamed. Don’t the legislators ever get sick? Look at the attendance at the House. So many absences, like no one really cares. They are too tired, especially after the first month last January when they fought over office space. Even the Hill named the Alaska legislature the worst in the nation. What a distinction! And defeating this particular amendment was heralded by the left wing press. I guess they don’t care about people anymore. And of course, the fingers of Bryce Edgmon was all over it. To think that not even a simple bill can get by. Outrageous!
    Thanks, Suzanne for showing us the money in back of the vote.

  7. My Analysis:
    Lebon, Merrick, Thompson and Tuck received hospital assn. funds and voted YES.

    Stutes and 11 Democrats received hospital assn. funds and voted NO.
    Leftists Synder, Drummond, Ortiz and Hopkins were unpaid and voted NO.

    The correlation appears to be Leftists, paid or not, voted No.

    Hence no one is bought by a $500 or $1000 contribution.

    Enough folks; the angle is Democrats voted against the people rights.

    • You have to look a lot further than just the one PAC that Suzanne reported on. Most of the hospitals and healthcare organizations have their own PAC and lobbyists as well. And there are several “groups” hiding behind focus group names and LLC organization that appear to be healthcare related as well. All the groups have their own PACs and lobbyists as well.

  8. The Republican Party at one time was against more regulation of private businesses, and was for public safety. The social conservatives have turned the party upside down and now they want to increase regulations and allow individuals to spread Covid to others. SAD

    • You don’t wear trying to act like a conservative very well. In fact you’re almost as bad at trying to be a concern troll over the well-being of the Republican Party as most lefties are at trying to act like Christians.

  9. The provision of a patient not being able to have an advocate in the room will result in DEATH. Based on personal experience with my best friend (my wife) she would be dead had I not been in her room after a major operation in 2015. In the $15,000 a day ICU no less, the nurse assigned sitting at her station texting her boyfriend kept ignoring my pleadings until I started screaming and finally got assistance and things got turned around. Anyone in an ICU unit should have a right to have an advocate present, period. Contrary to all the propaganda, to many ,not all, my observation is that’s it’s just a job. The nurse on the following shift was very competent and largely responsible for the turnaround.

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