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Reality Check: New Anti-Prop. 45 Ad Is Partially Misleading

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_26528037/reality-check-new-anti-prop-45-ad-is

Proposition 45 would give California's elected insurance commissioner the authority to reject excessive health insurance rate hikes, a power the commissioner already wields for auto and homeowners insurance rates.

The campaign against it -- for which the insurance industry has so far put up $37.3 million -- is now airing a 60-second radio ad narrated by a nurse named Candy Campbell.

What does the ad say?

Campbell says voters have a choice between letting the state's "new independent commission" negotiate rates and reject expensive plans, or handing that power over to "one politician" who can "take millions in campaign contributions from special interests."

Is it true?

The "commission" Campbell is referring to is the board of Covered California, the state's new health insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act, commonly called "Obamacare." Covered California is indeed an independent part of state government. But it's somewhat misleading to describe the board as "independent." The board members are appointed by politicians -- the governor and the Legislature.

The ad is also misleading because Proposition 45 and Covered California could clearly coexist, as insurance exchanges do in other states that give insurance commissioners the power to regulate health premiums. It's not an either-or proposition.

It's true that the commissioner is an elected official and can accept money from insurance companies and other special interests. But it's also true that California's insurance commissioner for the past quarter-century has kept rate increases for auto and homeowners insurance among the lowest in the country.

-- Josh Richman, Staff - jrichman@bayareanewsgroup.com