Don't be fooled by insurance companies and the obscene amounts of money they're spending to defeat these measures
Bias alert! I am proud to say that for 25 years I've been a board member of Consumer Watchdog, the non-profit formerly known as the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. You could say I'm a ... dogged board member. Or not.
We are famous for the passage of Prop 103 in 1988. A quick refresher: Prop 103 has saved us California motorists over $102 BILLION -- yes, that's a billion with a capital "B" -- in premiums. And what are dogs excellent at doing? Why, identifying and sniffing out A-Holes, that's what. We did it in 1988, and now the same type of people have appeared for this up-coming election. That's why I'm urging you to vote YES on Propositions 45 and 46!
Here's the simple, unvarnished truth: Proposition 45 requires that health insurance rate hikes get prior approval before the providers capriciously double, triple or quadruple our premiums. A lot of us health insurance consumers have been stunned by how often providers like Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Kaiser, and Health Net raise their rates while reducing their coverage. In fact, I'm guessing that opening health insurance bills over the past decade or so has actually caused a few heart attacks, if not spikes in blood pressure. It's not healthy to open medical bills!
Meanwhile, the health insurance companies and their phony-baloney Proposition 45 detractors have spent $56 MILLION to defeat Proposition 45. And that's so far; the total could go higher between now and next Tuesday. Spending that kind of moolah to prevent any kind of oversight from the Department of Insurance (and yes, your premiums are funding some of these campaigns!) proves just how threatening this proposition is to the big dogs and BS artists in the insurance industry. It hurts to think of how many people have been duped by their false advertisements.
Proposition 45 is no nonsense and no bull. One of the many reasons I am so proud of being on the Consumer Watchdog board is that we routinely take on the big boys, and a few big girls too, with boldness and audacity. Case in point: Consumer Watchdog delivered a truckload of steer manure -- yes, actual bullshit -- to Blue Shield's corporate offices in San Diego on October 23, 2014. If they're going to shovel such a historic load at us, it's only fair they get some of it returned to them!
Proposition 45 simply regulates these outrageous and excessive health rate increases we've all experienced, just as Proposition 103 regulated out-of-control car insurance rate hikes. That's it. Thirty-five other states have a similar provision. As California is a leader in progressive issues, once we get this passed more states will follow.
When it comes to Proposition 46, the "Patient Safety Act," the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders is one thing; doctors without boundaries is quite another. One would think that no one, not even doctors themselves, would want a drunk or a drug-addicted physician practicing medicine at clinics and hospitals, right? Well, there are plenty of these physicians operating, probing, and diagnosing out there. They are violating their professional ethic to "do no harm" and Proposition 46 holds them to account.
It also will track those nefarious doctors who prescribe drugs to people who "doctor shop" for prescriptions they use to sustain addictions. These addicts are dangerous and deadly, as are the health care professionals who aid them. The Pack family, who provided the impetus for the creation of Prop 46, knows this all too well: they lost two kids to a doctor-shopping driver who was addicted to prescription pain-killers. She could have been stopped had Prop 46 been in effect. This proposition also corrects the antiquated and artificially low and insulting $250,000 award caps for gross medical malfeasance, which haven't kept pace with inflation. As in, they haven't been adjusted for over 20 years!
Just in case this column is tad too scatological for your aesthetics, let me add another anatomical viewpoint: namely, the website Lady Parts Justice. Lizz Winstead, the co-creator and former head writer for The Daily Show, is outraged (and hysterically funny) about the steady degradation of women's reproductive rights. Please, if you have relatives in any of the so-called Red States that are threatening women's' rights, call them and direct them to the site. You'll find Ms. Winstead and Sarah Silverman doing their "parts" to show people just how ludicrous and pernicious the attack on women's rights really is.
And, if you really want to get riled up about so-called "Tort Reform" efforts by the right wing -- the same overachieving A-Holes attacking Prop 46 -- please watch the 2011 documentary film Hot Coffee, a scalding indictment of the way huge corporations spin the media and keep "regular" people from having their day in court. Everyone has heard of, and probably mocked, the large settlement awarded to the woman who sued McDonald's over spilled hot coffee. Once you watch this film you'll see just how duped we all were, and how our access to justice is now being diluted state by state, like so much whitener in a cup of coffee. It's infuriating. Fight back and vote YES on 46!
Join my barking and growling at the vicious pack of big insurance A-Holes. Get the facts, then get everyone out to vote including yourself. Don't let the big dogs lift their leg on you anymore!
NOTE: This article is an updated and expanded version of my column in the Pasadena Weekly that originally ran on October 30, 2014