Thanks to your support, we ran the television advertisement about California State Senator Ed Hernandez about 300 times during the past week.
Your vote was overwhelmingly in support of continuing the advertisement, and with your help we made an important point. Patients should matter more in Sacramento and the health insurance complex should not be able to put its will above patients' desires for better protection from government.
The advertisement got the attention of the leadership in Sacramento. Perhaps they are starting to realize that the public's opinion about conflicts of interest in the statehouse and about how insurance companies treat patients is far different than "in the building."
For this week, we have withdrawn the advertisement. The reason is that the patient whose public testimony was shown did not want the tremendous publicity the advertisement was generating near his home. We hope the pause will give Senate leaders the opportunity to get their house in order and demonstrate some resolve to better protect patients.
Below is the letter I sent to Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg.
"Since this is all about patients and their plight, and as a reminder to all of us that we need to put their interests first, we are withdrawing the advertisement, nor are we replacing it with another for now.
We are still deeply concerned about Senator Hernandez’s conflicts of interest. Just yesterday, Payers & Providers newsletter reported in a White Paper on campaign contributions that Senator Hernandez received more campaign contributions in the first half of 2011 from entities opposed to AB 52 than any other member of the California Senate. (Article is attached)
Campaign contributions from entities opposed to AB 52 to Democratic Senators,
Jan. 1 to June 30, 2011
1. Ed Hernandez, West Covina – $28,900
2. Juan Vargas, Chula Vista – $11,400
3. Michael J. Rubio, E. Bakersfield --
4. Roderick Wright, Inglewood –
5. Lou Correa, Santa Ana (for Attorney
General campaign) – $6,000
Source: California Secretary of State
FROM: Payers & Providers
However, in the interest of rolling up our sleeves, putting last year’s session behind us, and trying solve the problems of patients like Joseph Villela, whose family could not afford the high price of health insurance, we are putting our faith in your resolve to bring strong health insurance premium regulation to all Californians.
As you know, California is in the minority of states that does not give regulators the power to approve or reject premium increases. In addition, regulation of rates for property casualty insurance in California is the strongest in the nation and has produced indisputable success: the fourth most competitive auto insurance market in America and $62 billion in savings for drivers according to the Consumer Federation of America.
As a first step, may I suggest an all-day gathering of key players, before the legislature resumes, to debunk the myths perpetuated by the opponents of AB 52 and to explore what meaningful prior approval regulation would look like in California for health insurance companies and health plans.
Reasonable minds should be able to find a strong regulatory solution that was not possible during the past year. We remain skeptical that such a solution is possible given the extraordinary influence of the health insurance industry over the Senate, but we are nonetheless committed to working toward such a solution in the interests of patients at every opportunity.
Our skepticism and the way the health insurance industry has repeatedly dominated politics in the statehouse over the last half decade on this issue has led us to draft a ballot measure that rolls back rates by 20% and regulates health insurance premiums in the state. We are currently on the path to begin signature collection for the November 2012 ballot. Should your efforts fail, we hope you will join us in going directly to the voters to protect patients who have been at the whim of arbitrary and capricious health insurance company premium hikes for too long."
Stay tuned. This isn't over until patients get the protections from health insurance companies that they need.