HCA Healthcare shareholders rally against political donations to Governor DeSantis – Sun Sentinel

Employee and union shareholders of HCA Healthcare, Florida’s largest hospital operator, rallied at the company’s annual meeting on Thursday to improve reporting on its political spending and lobbying.

Shareholders said research into political contributions found HCA donated more than $7 million to conservative political action committees in Florida who donated at least $2 million to the governor’s campaign of Florida Ron DeSantis, including $1.5 million in 2022.

Xochitl Gonzalez, a patient care technician at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, Calif., said HCA Healthcare workers who are also shareholders oppose donating to committees that support DeSantis’ campaign. DeSantis’ refusal to expand Medicaid in the interests of politics leaves billions of federal dollars on the table that could help struggling rural hospitals and create good healthcare jobs in Florida, it said. she stated.

Gonzalez said HCA Healthcare workers only learned about the donation through a deep dive into data on political contributions. “HCA must stop supporting politicians who erect barriers that prevent large numbers of patients from accessing health care.”

Based in Nashville, HCA Healthcare is one of the nation’s leading healthcare service providers, operating 182 hospitals, including 49 in Florida.

Andrew Hamilton, director of healthcare research for Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said HCA’s policy input was painstaking.

But he revealed that the company’s political donations are not balanced. At least 75% of the Florida health care company’s political spending since 2017 has gone to the five political action committees that have donated to DeSantis’ campaign.

Four unions – International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), Communications Workers of America (CWA) and United Farmworkers of America (UFW) and SEIU – argued in favor of two proposals for HCA shareholders to vote on Thursday: Both addressed the transparency and called on HCA to better disclose its lobbying and political campaign expenses.

Unions weren’t the only proponents of better disclosure.

Leading proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Service (ISS) recommended that HCA shareholders vote in favor of the proposals, as did a major investment group that manages pension funds that are HCA shareholders.

“Shareholders are calling on HCA to disclose its political and lobbying expenditures to determine whether company resources are used in a way that is consistent with stakeholder interests and the company’s reputation and long-term success. business,” Dieter Waizenegger of SOC Investment Group said in a written statement.

At Thursday’s meeting, both proposals were rejected.

After the vote, HCA spokesperson Christian Lail said, “We carefully consider who we support with our political contributions based on a variety of factors, and we take a bipartisan approach when making these decisions.”

Lail also said that HCA believes it is important to make information about the company’s participation in the political process public.

“Last year, we began to improve our disclosure practices by posting information about our lobbying activities and political contributions on our website. This includes the publication of political contributions and dues over $50,000 made to national trade associations, coalitions and other tax-exempt organizations, as well as federal and state contributions by affiliated political action committees. to HCA Healthcare for the most recent election cycle,” she said.