California insurers hope $38M can block rate review proposal


Insurers in California are spending $38 million to lobby against a state ballot initiative that would allow the state's insurance chief to review and potentially reject their premium rate proposals, reported the Center for Public Integrity.

The strategies the insurers are employing in California--including carefully targeted ads and establishing front groups--are proven tactics that have helped companies successfully campaign in the past.

Since California residents currently support the proposition (69 percent are in favor of it), insurers like Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California are hoping they have enough time to change public opinion using the previously successful strategies.

So far, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Health Net and UnitedHealth have donated $37.3 million to the Californians Against Higher Health Care Costs (CAHHCC). The group has a total of $37.9 million to conduct its lobbying activities against Proposition 45, which state residents will vote on Nov 4.

In its "bifurcated" campaign, CAHHCC is tailoring its communications regarding Proposition 45--which requires insurers to publicly justify rate increases, bans excessive rate hikes and allows the public to challenge unjustified rate hikes--to each political party.

The message for conservatives, which will appear in right-leaning publications, is that the proposition would effectively make California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones a healthcare czar, who could have a negative impact on the free market. Meanwhile, insurers will communicate a different message to liberals, appearing in Democratic-leaning publications, that claims Proposition 45 will lead to the Affordable Care Act into being legally attacked.

California insurers already spent $13.8 million to defeat the ballot initiative, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the Center for Public Integrity article

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