SANTA MONICA—Spanish language newspaper La Opinion endorsed Prop 45 over the weekend joining more than a dozen other newspapers supporting Yes on 45 on behalf of six million individuals and small businesses that health insurance companies are price gouging on premiums.
“Proposition 45 seeks to expand the power of the California Insurance Commissioner to accept or reject rate hikes from health insurance companies, the same way it does with home and car insurance, since Proposition 103,” wrote La Opinion’s editorial board. “This has always been a good idea, one that has been touted many times in the past.”
“La Opinion and other newspapers across the state understand that federal law now requires everyone to buy insurance, but there is no guarantee that it be affordable,” said Consumer Advocate Liza Tucker. “They have taken the position that Prop 45 provides that guarantee, so it helps David against Goliath.”
Newspaper editorials noted that the passage of Prop 103 in 1987 to regulate auto and home insurance rates saved drivers more than $100 billion over 25 years. “California’s drivers have enjoyed some of the lowest auto insurance rates in the nation because of this law,” wrote the Mercury News, Oakland Tribune, and Contra Costa Times. “Proposition 45 gives voters the opportunity to accomplish the same goal for health insurance, as 35 states already do. Voters should approve it.”
Currently, no federal or California state agency has the power to reject excessive or unreasonable health insurance rates, despite what the insurance industry is claiming in a $57 million deceptive radio and TV ad campaign. That is the status quo that the health insurance industry is trying to defend, editorials said. “The tidal wave of money from major players in the insurance industry is a reliable sign that Proposition 45 would be good for consumers,” wrote the Ventura County Star. “As things stand now, there is no official in California with the power to reject excessive health insurance rates. This initiative sensibly fills that gap.”
Other newspapers’ endorsements said:
Fresno Bee: “Don't believe the nonsense from the health insurers…. Proposition 45 is worthy of a "yes" vote. But if you want to put more of your hard-earned dollars into the pockets of insurance company CEOs, by all means vote "no." They might be having trouble making the mortgage on their second yacht — or third vacation home.
Pacific Sun: “The initiative is sponsored by Consumer Watchdog, the same group that sponsored Prop. 103 a few years back, which essentially did for auto and homeowner insurance what Prop. 45 wants to do with health insurance—it created an elected insurance commissioner who could approve or reject rate hikes. According to the Consumer Federation of America, Prop. 103 has saved Californians more than $100 billion since 1988—money that otherwise would have gone to the insurance companies. We don't hear any consumers calling for a repeal of Prop. 103—and we don't see why Prop. 45 would be any less effective in placing some regulation of rates on a health-insurance industry that simply cannot be trusted to regulate itself.”
Marin Independent: “Yes — Voters are being asked whether they want to give the elected state insurance commissioner the job of approving some health insurance rates. Backers of the measure say that putting that power in the hands of a publicly elected official would help rein in skyrocketing insurance rates. Proposition 45 would expand the insurance commissioner's authority to health care plans covering individuals and small-group plans. The commissioner already has that say-so over other forms of insurance. If voters don't approve of the decisions of that politician, they can vote him or her out of office.”
Armenian Weekly: “Proposition 45 authorizes the elected insurance commissioner to approve/disapprove health insurance rate increases, just as s/he currently does for car and homeowner insurance… How much complaining have you heard in the last quarter of a century since the insurance commissioner was given rate-control power over car and homeowner insurance? Much less than before, which is why this is a good idea. Of course, you’ll also hear opposition from those who want to return to late-19th century robber-baron capitalism, but those people should be ignored just like anyone who proposes reestablishing the Soviet Union would be. Vote ‘Yes’ on this item.”
Chico Enterprise Record: “We always cringe when the state says it wants to regulate something, in this case health insurance. But it has worked well for auto insurance under the state insurance commissioner. This proposition requires that health insurance companies justify proposed rate increases with the state insurance commissioner before enacting them. Health insurance companies used lobbying (and of course hefty campaign donations to the bought-and-sold Legislature) to ward off legislative action. They are expected to spend more than $50 million in an attempt to defeat Proposition 45, which was put on the ballot by petition signatures after the Legislature failed. Voters should look out for their interests and vote yes.”
Santa Monica Mirror: “Proposition 45 is almost a no-brainer. It would place health insurance rates under the same kind of regulation that has made California the only state where automobile insurance prices have fallen over the last 25 years – since voters adopted the 1988 Proposition 103 and put car and property insurance rates under the authority of the state insurance commissioner…Radio and television ads financed by [health insurance company] big bucks are misleading as can be, warning that 45 could somehow reduce the negotiating power of the commission that regulates Covered California’s rates under Obamacare. It won’t. But it will require insurers to justify rate increases for groups and individual policies before they can be bumped up.”
Santa Barbara Independent: “Government is us, and government is meant to protect us, the Davids, from the Goliaths. Left to the forces of capitalism without some moderating governmental oversight, we would still have child labor, slavery, 80-hour work weeks, no OSHA, unregulated utilities, no inspection of food and water quality, no limits on pollution, and so on. In the case of Proposition 45, California is following the example of 35 other states that also thought not all health insurance rate increases are justified and should be reviewed. Health coverage is something we are beginning to accept as a necessity and thus something that everyone should be able to afford, either via premiums or via a tax-financed system. Empowering the Insurance Commissioner to review the rates and ask that the insurers present evidence of the need for increased premiums seems a reasonable move.”
EGPNews: “Today California has lower insurance rates than they did 25 years ago. The same protection is needed for small groups and single plan healthcare insurance buyers…Concerns have been raised that giving the insurance commissioner this power will set back negotiations between the state’s new insurance commission on behalf of Covered California Health Exchange and insurance providers, but we don’t see any reason why there cannot be cooperation between both bodies. We should remember, most Californians do not get their insurance through a Covered California plan, and they deserve to have someone looking out for them.”
La Prensa San Diego: “Naturally insurance companies hate more requirements and regulations. They want to keep their ability to raise rates to benefit their stockholders without insurance commissioner approval…We have all seen what happened when gas and electricity was deregulated with no price control. Rates went through the roof. Government has a role in price regulation when it comes to basic necessities. Without regulation insurance companies will continue the practice of raising rates to meet profit projections without concern for the consumer.”
Record Searchlight: “Embrace the effort to block unreasonable rate hikes by companies that have been allowed to raise rates with impunity. Embrace transparency. Vote yes on Prop. 45.”
San Francisco Bay Guardian: “PROPOSITION 45—Yes”
For more on Prop 45 visit: http://www.yeson45.org
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Paid for by Consumer Watchdog Campaign – Yes on 45, a coalition of consumer advocates, nurses, attorneys, and policyholders. 777 S. Figueroa St., Ste. 4050, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Major Funding by Consumer Watchdog Campaign and California Nurses Association.