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Santa Monica, CA – California’s largest health insurance companies have hired a Democratic party “insider”, former executive director of the Democratic Party, Kathy Bowler, to try to stop Consumer Watchdog’s November ballot measure to limit excessive health insurance rate hikes, ahead of the March California Democratic Party (CDP) Convention in Los Angeles, and the summer executive board meeting.

The five largest health insurance providers in California, Wellpoint Inc., Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Blue Shield of California, Health Net, Inc., and United Healthcare Insurance Company, have contributed close to $14 million to the committee named “Californians Against Higher Health Care Costs” opposing the ballot measure – which would in fact stop runaway health insurance premiums.

The committee paid $65,250 to Bowler’s K Bowler Group in 2013 to be the Democratic “front woman”  to target CDP members and allies. Bowler has been speaking out against the ballot initiative at local Democratic clubs and labor and trade union meetings, despite the fact that rate regulation was adopted as part of the party platform in 2012.  The measure is also championed and co-chaired by United States Senator Dianne Feinstein.

“Health insurance companies want to buy political support for their right to raise rates at will, but the public deserves the right to rein in runaway premiums. California should not be in the a minority of states that have no lid on how much health insurers can charge when all citizens have to buy insurance,” said Samuel Chu of Consumer Watchdog.

The five insurance giants funding the opposition and Bowler’s operation together controlled 88% of the individual and group market in the state and generated more than $82.9 billion in revenues in 2011.  They are expected to control an even greater share of the market in 2014 and stand to lose the ability to charge Californians millions more in excessive premiums if the measure passes.

The ballot measure would require health insurance companies to publicly justify rate hikes under penalty of perjury, prohibit excessive rate hikes, allow the public to challenge unjustified rate increases, and require approval before a rate hike takes effect.  Health insurance companies would be prohibited from passing on the cost of campaign contributions and lobbying to policyholders.

Read more about the Health Insurance Rate Public Justification and Accountability Act here: http://www.justifyrates.org