Candidates for Congress may appreciate all of the soft help interest groups can provide with educating voters about the issues and blasting opponents to smithereens.

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But sometimes, candidates need cash to pay their own campaign advertising and utility bills. The campaign workers who are supposed to be raising cash might enjoy seeing contributions go directly to their bosses, not just to some giant entity that knows how to make people on the other side look bad.

One possible source of quick campaign contribution cash in political action committees.

PACs established by interest groups, such as trade associations and professional societies, submit detailed reports to the Federal Election Commission. The FEC posts those reports online.

Related: How health insurance PAC money is flowing in 6 tight Senate races

One concern for candidates is that the PACs may not necessarily be that full of cash.

News reports about PACs make it sound as if fat cats with suitcases stuffed with gold bars are ambling around Capitol Hill trying to buy souls. But agents and brokers who have heard the pleas for PAC contributions at agent group meetings know that the people who manage PACs are often stuck trying to squeeze contributions out of sympathizers without over-promising.

Fundraisers typically say the PAC is just trying to show its supporters are serious people by creating an atmosphere conducive to educational discussions. They don’t say (in public, anyway) that they can turn Red votes Blue or Blue votes Red. They are just trying to sell the idea that there might still be hope, to potential donors who may be worried about their own bills.

We’ve tried to develop a rough gauge for PAC energy level by looking at the amount of cash a PAC had on hand at the end of its most recent FEC reporting cycle. We looked only at summary reports for PACs associated with registered lobbying organizations with report coverage dates on or after June 30. Some of the reports were quarterly reports, and some were monthly reports.

We found a total of about 1,180 PAC summary reports that fit within our parameters, then ranked them by the amount of cash they had on hand.

We then picked out the ones that seem to be strongly involved with the health insurance policy (based on the principle that: those are associated with organizations we frequently cover). In theory, many union PACs could be viewed as representatives of large health insurance providers. We did not include them in these rankings because, like big non-insurance corporations with self-funded health plans, they also have many other interests, and because their PACs had so much more cash than the insurance-related PACs that including them would have crowded out the insurance industry-related PACs.

The PAC with the most cash on hand was the Service Employees International Union Committee on Political Education. The SEIU’s COPE PAC schooled other PACs by ending the reporting period with about $17 million.

The American Hospital Association PAC, a Washington-based health-related PAC with the biggest pile of cash left over, had $3.6 million. 

The median for the 1,180 PACs in the full data file was about $74,000.

Here’s a look at the 20 that ended the most recent reporting periods with the most cash on hand, the amounts of cash each had on hand, and where the PACs stood in terms of the rankings for all 1,180 PACs in the data file. (Some well-known PACs, such as the America’s Health Insurance Plans PAC, are not on this list because they ended their last FEC reporting period with less cash than the 20th PAC on this list.)

One major PAC focus this year is control of the U.S. Senate, which may affect who sits on the U.S. Supreme Court. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

One major PAC focus this year is control of the U.S. Senate, which may affect who sits on the U.S. Supreme Court. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Health insurance policy PACs: 20 through 11

 

20. Wellcare Health Plans PAC (Medicaid and Medicare plans)

Parent organization’s location: Tampa, Florida 

Cash on hand: $98,786 (June 30)

Cash spent in reporting period: $274,500 (quarterly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 642

 

19. Blue PAC – Blue Cross Blue Shield Association PAC (Insurer group)

Parent organization’s location: Chicago

Cash on hand: $99,752 (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: $813,311 (monthly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 483

 

18. National Association of Health Underwriters PAC (HUPAC) (Producers group) 

Parent organization’s location: Washington 

Cash on hand: $112,435

Cash spent in reporting period: $820,000

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 441 

 

17. Highmark PAC (Health insurer)

Parent organization’s location: Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

Cash on hand: $134,965 (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: $85,950 (monthly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 391

 

16. Florida Health PAC (Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida (Health insurer)

Parent organization’s location: Jacksonville, Florida

Cash on hand: $136,386 (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: $131,989 (monthly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 385 

 

15. Independence Blue Cross PAC (Health insurer)

Parent organization’s location: Philadelphia

Cash on hand: $156,637 (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: $97,350 (monthly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 351

 

14. Magellan Health PAC (Specialty care manager)

Parent organization’s location: Columbia, Maryland

Cash on hand: $163,275 (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: Not available

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 337

 

13. UnitedHealth Group PAC (Health insurer)

Parent organization’s location: Minnetonka, Minnesota   

Cash on hand: $171,636 (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: $1.2 million (monthly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 326

 

12. Self-Insurance Institute of America PAC (Self-funded plans)

Parent organization’s location: Simpsonville, South Carolina

Cash on hand: $185,158 (June 30)

Cash spent in reporting period: $30,500 (quarterly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 301 

 

11. Cigna Corp. PAC (Health insurer)

Parent organization’s location: Bloomfield, Connecticut

Cash on hand: $188,718 (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: $620,950 (monthly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 296 

 

Related: 3 reasons Congress could approve an ACA change bill (with video)

Some of the health policy PACs with the most cash are associated with hospitals, doctors and Medicaid plan companies. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Some of the health policy PACs with the most cash are associated with hospitals, doctors and Medicaid plan companies. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Health insurance policy PACs: 10 through 1

 

10. Marsh & McLennan Companies PAC (Broker; private exchanges)

Parent organization’s location: New York

Cash on hand: $217,370 (June 30)

Cash spent in reporting period: $423,150 (quarterly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 266

 

9. Aetna PAC (Health insurer)

Parent organization’s location: Hartford, Connecticut

Cash on hand: $231,145 (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: $889,500 (monthly) 

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 250 

 

8. Molina Healthcare PAC (Medicaid plans; exchange plans)

Parent organization’s location: Long Beach, California

Cash on hand: $254,780 (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: $254,750 (monthly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 229 

 

7. Anthem PAC (Health insurer)

Parent organization’s location: Indianapolis

Cash on hand: $340,682 (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: $1.2 million (monthly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 170

 

6. Health Care Service Corp. Employees’ PAC (Health insurer)

Parent organization’s location: Chicago

Cash on hand: $414,367 (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: $562,500 (monthly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 141

 

5. Express Scripts PAC (Pharmacy benefit manager)

Parent organization’s location: St. Louis

Cash on hand: $443,711 (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: $930,000 (monthly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 132

  

4. Humana PAC (Health insurer)

Parent organization’s location: Louisville, Kentucky 

Cash on hand: $489,038 (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: $958,500 (monthly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 124 

 

3. National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (Producer group)

Parent organization’s location: Falls Church, Virginia

Cash on hand: $708,640 (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: $1.9 million (monthly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 56 

 

2. The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers PAC (Producer group)

Parent organization’s location: Washington

Cash on hand: $968,254 (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: $1.5 million (monthly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 79 

 

1. Centene Corp. (Medicaid plans; TRICARE administrator; ACA exchange plans)

Parent organization’s location: St. Louis

Cash on hand: $1 million (July 31)

Cash spent in reporting period: $162,500 (monthly spending)

Rank vs. all 1,180 lobbyist PAC cash totals: 54

 

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