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Labor & Medical Industry Give 56% of Prop 93 $$ to Win Concessions in Health Care Legislation
Date:12/17/2007

Nunez Deal Would Force Consumers to Buy Health Insurance With No Limit on Price or Promise of Meaningful Benefits

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Dec. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Labor unions, hospitals and doctors, health insurers and the drug industry have contributed $3.8 million to Proposition 93, the measure to extend legislative term limits, as they sought and received special benefits in Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez's health care legislation, AB 1x, according to an analysis released today by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).

Groups with a stake in the health care debate gave 56% of the $5.9 million contributed to Prop 93 to date. View the analysis at http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/prop93chart.pdf

"The Speaker has turned the legislature's most pressing work into an ATM for the Prop 93 effort," said Jamie Court, president of FTCR. "A vote to force a family of two making $54,000 per year to pay whatever health insurers want to charge is an outrageous gift to the medical-insurance complex that can only be explained by the potential for even bigger contributions to keep politicians in office longer."

AB 1x now requires families of moderate income to buy expensive health insurance policies without a limit on their price or a requirement that insurers offer meaningful benefits. The bill would force families making $82,600 per year to buy a health insurance policy whose average cost is $12,000 per year - with no limit on premiums that can be charged by the insurance industry. The policies likely to predominate will be high-deductible, low-benefit coverage.

"There are few votes in a legislative career that will forever stain it. Today's is one," wrote FTCR in a floor alert to members of the Assembly this morning. Read FTCR's floor alert at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/AB1xFloorAlert.pdf

Proposition 93's largest donor, the Service Employees International Union, received a special provision in AB 1x that allows it to expand its membership by replacing licensed physicians and nurses with medical assistants it represents.

The FTCR analysis found:

-- The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and affiliates contributed $1,110,000 (including $600,000 last week) to get changes to AB 1X allowing clinics at WalMart and other retail outlets to be staffed with minimally trained and unlicensed "medical assistants" organized by SEIU, rather than registered nurses.

-- The American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and affiliates contributed $610,633 while seeking changes to AB 1X to increase the number of dues-paying home health care workers (organized by AFSCME & SEIU) by including coverage for those services in benefits packages.

-- The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) contributed $35,000 to eliminate the ability of the new state insurance pool to bulk purchase cheaper drugs.

-- Blue Cross of California contributed $50,000 to require Californians to buy private health insurance policies with no oversight over what insurers charge or the quality and scope of benefits that patients receive.

-- The California Optometric Association and the Doctors of Optometry Issues PAC contributed $50,000; the California Dental Association contributed $250,000; the California Chiropractic Association and California Orthopaedic Association contributed $45,000. All seek to increase patients and revenue with the widest possible inclusion of their members' respective fields in benefit packages in AB 1X.

-- The California Hospital Association contributed $100,000 to increase funding for, and expand commercial access to, previously uninsured patients through taxpayer-subsidized health coverage, and to include a deal reached with the Governor that would require hospitals to contribute 4% of income toward reform but provide more than that in returns, especially for the large, for-profit hospitals that comprise the majority of CHA's membership.

"Your rejection of this bill will send a message that legislative process, the interests of your constituents and health care reform itself demand more than a rubber stamp on the Speaker's wish to maximize fundraising for Proposition 93, his effort to extend legislators' term limits," FTCR wrote the Assembly. "Speaker Nunez is clearly willing to rush a vote on a complicated bill that has not been vetted in order to please the biggest donor to the Prop 93 campaign, the Service Employees International Union, and to claim even a pyrrhic victory that can be touted in the pro-Prop 93 campaign."

Read more about the problems with mandatory health insurance: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/healthcare/co/?postId=8587


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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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