Campaign Finance for LTC Pharmacy

As a leader in your industry and community, you will eventually receive requests to support political candidates running for state and federal office. Perhaps you have already been asked to make a contribution to a candidate. Supporting candidates who understand our industry is good citizenship and allows us all to help well-qualified candidates get elected. Just be sure you know what you can and cannot do.

Different Elections, Different Rules

Every year, we go to the polls and cast our ballots for candidates for different offices. In the federal arena, we vote every two years (the “even” years) for members of the U.S. House of Representatives and one-third of the members of the Senate. In most states, we also vote for our statewide representatives. Local elections are most often held in odd years. Four states hold statewide elections in odd years.

Campaign finance law is a part of the law that governs how campaigns are allowed to raise money, who may make campaign contributions, and how much money individuals and companies are allowed to contribute. These laws are generally not difficult to comply with but may require you to make a report if your contributions exceed a specific limit.

Federal Rules

The agency that enforces federal election law is the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The FEC website is worth taking a look. You can find the disclosure forms for candidates, including who is making contributions, as well as how much each campaign has raised and spent as of the latest reporting period.

Fortunately, when you make a contribution to a federal candidate, you have no reporting obligation, but if you exceed $200 in contributions during the course of the year, the campaign is obligated to include your name and address in its reports. There are limits on how much you can contribute to any individual candidate. For the current election cycle, the limit is $3,300 per election. For law purposes, the primary election and the general election are two separate elections, so you could contribute a combined total of $6,600 to an individual candidate during the 2023-24 cycle. It is worth noting that campaign contributions are not tax deductible.

State Rules

With 50 states in the U.S., we have 50 state election laws and 50 sets of regulations. Unlike the federal election system, there are 29 states that allow you to make political contributions with company money. While most states’ requirements are fairly simple, it’s always best to check with an expert in campaign finance in the state in which the candidate is competing. If you are a member of your state pharmacy association, you should start with them. They know all about this.

Political Action Committees

Under federal law, organizations and companies can collectively gather funds from their employees to make campaign contributions. These groups are called Political Action Committees (PACs), and the FEC provides guidelines on how they should be structured and managed, as well as how employees can be asked to contribute. The rules are more complicated but the contribution limits are greater — up to $5,000 per election for PACs. Regular reports must be submitted to the FEC, and the compliance costs are high enough that it is usually more practical for a pharmacy to encourage its employees to contribute to the professional or trade association’s PAC.

The Benefits of Participation

Unlike many other professions, LTC pharmacy management is highly dependent on a reasonable regulatory environment to enable us to fulfill our mission. Engaging your elected officials to help them better understand our value in delivering high-quality healthcare services to the residents we serve starts with a conversation and continues through helping well-informed policymakers get elected. Ethical participation in supporting political campaigns is a key element of effective advocacy.

Written by:
Paul Baldwin
Baldwin Health Policy Group
Paul Baldwin

Paul’s pharmaceutical industry experience in public and government affairs led to becoming Executive Director of the Long Term Care Pharmacy Alliance, helping lead the industry through the Medicare Modernization Act and creation of the prescription drug benefit. Paul was VP of Public Affairs for Omnicare before founding Baldwin Health Policy Group.

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