FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 16, 2012
Vast Majority of Contributions to Consumer Watchdog Initiative Made by Consumer Watchdog and Trial Lawyers
Campaign reports show that 87% of money given to the initiative comes from special interests that will directly benefit from its passage
SACRAMENTO – Fiona Hutton, Campaign Spokesperson, today issued the following statement on behalf of Californians Against Higher Health Care Costs, the coalition of physician groups, doctors, hospitals, health care providers, small businesses and others opposed to the health insurance rate regulation ballot initiative being proposed by special interest-backed Consumer Watchdog for the November 2012 statewide election. It is a one-sided measure that is written by special interests for special interests – it does nothing to control spiraling health care costs.
A recent review of campaign contributions found on the California Secretary of State’s website reveals that 87% of current donations came from either Consumer Watchdog or trial lawyers – those funding this campaign are the very interests that will profit from its passage.
“This flawed measure is a trial lawyer bonanza that will end up costing patients and consumers,” said Fiona Hutton. “Clearly this initiative isn’t about improving health care for millions of Californians, but really about putting money in the pockets of Consumer Watchdog and trial lawyers.”
This initiative would create a new funding stream for Consumer Watchdog and its band of trial lawyers to pocket millions of dollars—at patients’ expense—because they wrote the initiative to include lucrative financial rewards to lawyers for filing unnecessary legal challenges. The measure will enable almost any individual or group to intervene in an ongoing rate-setting proceeding, and it will require their fees be paid by health insurers, adding to the cost of premiums.
Consumer Watchdog has already collected more than $7.5 million from a similar provision it wrote into Proposition 103. What’s more, last year, Consumer Watchdog collected 100% of all such fees paid through auto insurance regulation – making them the only group in the state to profit from the program for the fourth straight year.
This measure alters a large and complicated health system without the input of patients, doctors, hospitals or health plans. This is why community hospitals, doctors, small business and many others across the state oppose it.
In 2011, doctors, hospitals, physician groups, employers and more than 100 groups opposed a similar legislative proposal to the proposed initiative because it would increase the cost of health insurance and have devastating impacts on patients’ access to quality care. In fact, this ill-conceived regulatory scheme has already been defeated in the Legislature four times in the last four years because it is bad for patients. Now, Consumer Watchdog is making a last ditch effort to use the initiative process to open up health insurance to the same money-making scheme.
Early opponents of the proposed initiative include the California Chamber of Commerce, California Association of Physician Groups, California Medical Association, California Hospital Association, Small Business Action Committee, Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, Hospital Association of Southern California, Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties and the California Association of Health Plans.
For more information, visit www.StopHigherCosts.com.