07/12/17

Border Health: Democrat

Tribe: Democrat

Border Health PAC (BHPAC) is the premier supporter of Democrats from the Rio Grande Valley and border region of Texas. They exist to “promote issues of the medical profession along the border of the State of Texas” and spend large amounts of money to do so. Rather than seeking influence on legislation statewide, BHPAC centers its focus on what’s happening at home.

Closely aligned with Doctors Hospital at Renaissance (a doctor-owned hospital in Edinburg, TX), BHPAC has worked to protect the rights of physicians and doctors to own or have partial ownership of the facilities at which they work. Critics of this model, including former President Barack Obama, argue it incentivizes doctors to over-test and conduct unnecessary procedures as they directly benefit financially. The Rio Grande Valley is one of the few areas of the state where this type of arrangement is prominent.

BHPAC’s support of Democrats and Liberal Republicans in House Leadership isn’t surprising as they’ve strongly advocated for the expansion of Medicaid in Texas. Their efforts to bring more federal dollars to the Valley center largely around the desire to have a new hospital district built in Hidalgo County.

A quick look at the top ten recipients of BHPAC dollars in the Texas House shows a clear bent toward supporting the Democrat tribe.

Top Ten Texas House Recipients – 2016 Cycle 
Joe Straus $50,000
Bobby Guerra $40,000
Garnet Coleman $25,000
Trent Ashby $25,000
Eddie Lucio $20,000
Oscar Longoria $20,000
Rene Oliveira $20,000
Richard Raymond $20,000
Terry Canales $20,000
Todd Hunter $20,000
Total $260,000

***Shown are the top ten supported  candidates who won the office they sought, as they have votes to examine from the 85th Legislative Session.

 

Pro-BHPAC Spin:

Represented exclusively by Democrats in the Texas Legislature, some argue the Valley often is the forgotten region of the state. BHPAC works to give a voice to a region of the state on an issue set central to the future of its residents. BHPAC is clearly aligned with Democrats but supports Liberal Republicans who are a part of the House Leadership team in an effort to grease the wheels of power in Austin. They know they cannot win major policy fights alone, as the Democrat numbers are too few. But if they can syphon off enough Liberal Republican support they often have the ability to thwart conservative reforms.

 

Anti-BHPAC Spin:

BHPAC’s critics argue the group’s investment in politics isn’t for the betterment of the state or its citizens, but the doctors and physicians of the Rio Grande Valley. Carving out exclusive benefits or exclusive business climates for a particular city or county, particularly when those benefits aren’t necessarily options in the rest of the state, is usually frowned by voters. But, it seems that’s exactly what BHPAC is working to do. By solidifying support among Democrats and forming strategic alliances with Liberal Republicans, they’ve been able to exert more influence than one would suspect of a Democrat PAC in Texas. Their ability to team up with House Leadership to thwart conservative reforms, and thus the will of voters across Texas, shows just how far Liberal Republicans in the Texas House are willing to go to hold onto power.

 

The Bottom Line:

BHPAC is part of the Democrat tribe because they give heavily (and almost exclusively) to Democrats. The Republicans they do support are part of the Liberal Republican tribe, and usually are a part of the House Leadership team. BHPAC uses this alliance not to exert influence over the entire state, but to protect Valley Democrats and their interests.

Should voters see BHPAC giving large amounts of money to a candidate, voters can likely conclude that the politician is either a Democrat who advocates for the Valley – and specifically the medical professionals therein — or a Liberal Republican who is willing to carry their water.

 

Up Next:

Texas Medical Association PAC: Liberal Republican Tribe

 

An Easy Guide to the Big Money PACs in Texas Politics – In this Series:

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