Nursing home pipeline to Beacon Hill

Of the 5,141 virus deaths in Massachusetts, 3,095 have occurred in the state’s nursing homes — more than 60%, double the percentage even in New York.

Yet Gov. Charlie Baker, the scold and scourge of all golf carts, gun shops, nail salons and churches, none of which have recorded any fatalities, seems strangely oblivious to the ever-escalating toll in the state’s “long-term care facilities,” which are both heavily regulated and subsidized by the commonwealth.

Ditto, the Legislature, where no one seems to be demanding hearings into the nursing-home death tolls, which dwarf those of neighboring states.

The nursing homes seem to have a lot of very powerful friends at the State House, perhaps because of the hundreds of thousands of dollars their executives funnel into the pockets of those keeping the rest of the state, where few are dying, in lockdown.

According to records in the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF), the current officers on the board of directors of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the Beacon Hill politicians who control the state’s budget:

Baker has banked $52,510 from top nursing-home executives.

House Speaker Bob DeLeo, who rules the House with an iron fist, has collected $47,170.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito has grabbed $30,825.

These numbers do not include the $1,950 Baker and Polito received from the now-suspended politically connected director of the Holyoke Soldiers Home, which is directly under their control, and where more than 70 have died.

During this lockdown, even as the bodies of the elderly have piled up, the politicians have continued to reap even more money from the state’s nursing-home bosses.

According to OCPF records, state Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, the Senate chairman of Ways and Means, received contributions of at least $7,700 on April 21 just from assorted nursing-home executives who are on the board of the MA Senior Care Association.

Rodrigues, you may recall, is the legislator who a decade ago voted to impose a sales tax on the excise tax on alcohol, then had his photo surreptitiously taken in the parking lot of a New Hampshire liquor store as he loaded up the trunk of his car with tax-free booze.

Dependent as they are on the state’s MassHealth budget, the nursing-home executives have been particularly generous to the Legislature’s budget writers like Rodrigues and his House counterpart, Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, D-North End.

Michlewitz was an aide to House Speaker Sal DiMasi before DiMasi was convicted of extortion. The nursing homes were also extremely generous to DiMasi, and before him, Speaker Tom Finneran, before his conviction on obstruction of justice charges.

The current chairman of the MA Senior Care Association is Thomas Lavallee, chief operating officer of Alliance Health Management Services LLC. He has donated $2,200 to Baker, $1,950 to Polito, $1,625 to DeLeo, $550 to Rep. Ron Mariano, D-Quincy, the number-two man in the House, and $100 to Rodrigues, so says OCPF.

Treasurer Kevin Morris of BaneCare Management has given $2,550 to Baker, $1,150 to DeLeo, $725 to Polito and $625 to Rodrigues.

Clerk Christopher Hannon, from Point Group Care, LLC, gave $2,500 to Rodrigues, $1,250 to DeLeo, $1,000 to Michlewitz and $500 to Baker.

William Bogdanovich from Broad Reach Healthcare is president of Mass. Senior Care Foundation. His contributions include $6,450 to DeLeo, $5,000 to Baker, $3,850 to Polito and $800 to Rodrigues. In late October 2006, just before the election of Democrat Deval Patrick as governor, Bogdanovich gave $5,000 to the Democrat State Committee.

Board member Richard Bane of BaneCare Management gave $6,000 to Baker, $4,725 to DeLeo, $4,500 to Polito, $1,500 to Rodrigues and $1,000 each to Michlewitz and Senate president Karen Spilka.

Peter Gordon, president of Gordon Healthcare Management Group, contributed $6,100 to Baker, $3,500 to Polito and $1,000 each to Rodrigues and Spilka.

James Mamary, president of Royal Health Group, gave $4,500 to DeLeo, $3,500 to Baker, $2,125 to Rodrigues and $1,000 each to Spilka, Michlewitz and Mariano.

Steven Raso, CEO of Landmark Management Solutions, LLC, gave $6,250 to DeLeo, $5,000 to Polito, $4,500 to Baker and $2,000 to Rodrigues.

On the state’s coronavirus dashboard, it is impossible to determine the number of fatalities in each nursing home. The only statistics are of recorded cases, and they are only listed in three categories, fewer than 10, 10 to 30, and more than 30.

Late Tuesday, the state released its daily death update — the overall toll rose to 5,141. Of the 33 additional deaths, 24 occurred in nursing homes.

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