SANTA MONICA, Calif., Sept. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As the
Democratic health care bill goes to a vote today, the Foundation for
Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) released a new analysis of health
insurance industry contributions to Sacramento politicians which helps
explain why they would require Californians to pay for private health
insurance but refuse to regulate what insurers can charge for the policies.
Health insurers and their lobbying associations gave a total $4,094,132
to Governor Schwarzenegger, members of the California legislature, and
political parties between January 2001 and June 2007.
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the
architects of a potential health care deal in Sacramento, have led the pack
in contributions from the industry. Schwarzenegger has received $719,600,
and Nunez has taken $136,300, more than any other legislator.
“No one can say, or will admit, how much health care will cost or who
will pay. With $4 million from health insurers and 6 dozen fundraisers in
the last three weeks, no one in the capital wants to offend the health
insurers,” said Jerry Flanagan with FTCR.
AB 8, by Assembly Speaker Nunez, benefits insurers at the expense of
Californians by requiring workers and taxpayers to pay for coverage but
does not cap what insurers are allowed to charge. Under AB 8:
— If the cost of coverage exceeds 5% of income, the worker is not
required to buy coverage but will be uninsured or under-insured (forced
to buy a high-deducible, low-benefit policy). Those that currently
receive coverage from their employer may not be able to afford that
coverage in the future.
— If a worker earns below 300% of the federal poverty level, the worker’s
share of coverage is capped at 5% and the remaining cost will be paid
by taxpayers with no regulation of how much insurers can charge.
The analysis includes contributions made by the top six health insurer
and HMO donors — Blue Cross, Blue Shield, PacifiCare, Molina, Health Net,
Aetna – – as well as the Association of California Life and Health Insurers
and the Association of California Health Plans:
Dem/Rep Party: $1,056,747
“Lawmakers are focused on the interests of the health insurance
industry to the exclusion of consumers and workers, who will be required to
purchase a private health insurance policy regardless of what it costs or
covers under the emerging deal,” said FTCR’s Carmen Balber.
Legislation that would have required health insurers to defend their
overhead and profit while getting approval for premium increases to
regulate the insurance industry was defeated in the legislature in July.
The legislation would have applied to health insurers the same requirements
that apply to the auto insurance market and have saved drivers $23 billion
The five California companies (Kaiser, Blue Shield, Blue Cross,
PacifiCare, and HealthNet), that control 80% of the HMO market, have
recorded profit increases of $11.7 billion since 2002. Four of the
companies transferred $4.1 billion in profit to out-of-state parent
companies since 2002. The six largest HMOs spent $1.6 billion on marketing
SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights