Santa Monica, CA – Consumer Watchdog today warned voters that insurance companies had spent more than $100 million on deceptive advertising opposing pro-consumer Propositions 45 and 46.
“The $100 million campaigns bankrolled by insurance companies against Props 45 and 46 are meant to scare voters against initiatives that will hold insurance companies accountable for excessive costs and make health care safer,” said Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog. “They are banking on the public never noticing who’s paying for the deceptive ads and mailers. But even after all those millions, many voters remain undecided. That’s a good sign that the voters are beginning to question the source of the propaganda flooding the airwaves and voters' mailboxes.”
Five companies controlling 84 percent of California’s health insurance market – Kaiser, WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Health Net and United Healthcare – have contributed the lion’s share of $57 million against Prop 45. Medical malpractice insurers contributed $45.5 million out of almost $60 million spent against Prop 46. They are: the Cooperative of American Physicians, The Doctors Company, NorCal Mutual Insurance Company, the Medical Insurance Exchange of California, The Dentist Insurance Company, and The Mutual Risk Retention Group. Kaiser, the only healthcare insurance company, has given $5 million.
TV stations in California have made money from the expensive TV ad campaigns against the measures, but many have not covered the initiatives, including major market stations KTVU FOX in Oakland and KTXL FOX in Sacramento, according to analysis done by Consumer Watchdog.
“Many TV stations that were the beneficiaries of the health insurance industry’s largesse, to our knowledge, have not covered the measures,” said Liza Tucker with Consumer Watchdog. “Viewers deserve to hear at least one story on each initiative that did not come from paid advertising before the election.”
Consumer Watchdog released a preliminary chart of TV stations that, to its knowledge, have not covered Prop 45 or Prop 46. The list will be published in its final form tomorrow after being updated with stories that run today or coverage that was missed.
Did not cover Prop 45: Eureka – KAEF, KBVU, KVIQ; San Luis Obispo – KSBY; Salinas – KSBW; Chico – KCVU, KHSL, KNVN; Bakersfield –KGET; Santa Maria – KCOY, KKFX; Thousand Palms – KESQ, KPSP; Palm Desert – KUNA, KDFX.
Did not cover Prop 46: Bakersfield – KGET-TV; Chico – KHSL-TV; Fresno – KFSN-TV; Monterey, Salinas – KSBW-TV, Palm Springs – KESQ-TV, KMIR-TV; Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo – KSBY-TV, KCOY-TV.
Props 45 and 46 are consumer-friendly measures that will hold insurance companies and dangerous doctors accountable. Prop 45 would require health insurance companies to open their books and justify health insurance rate hikes under penalty of perjury. It would allow the state Insurance Commissioner to reject rates deemed excessive. 35 other states require justification of rate increases before they go into effect, but not California.
Prop 46 would require random drug testing of doctors just like pilots, train operators, and bus drivers are tested. It would require doctors to check an already existing prescription drug database before prescribing narcotics in order to prevent doctor shopping, and adjust the 38-year-old cap on malpractice awards for pain and suffering to match the rate of inflation.
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Paid for by Consumer Watchdog Campaign – Yes on 45 and 46, a coalition of consumer advocates, attorneys and nurses. 777 S. Figueroa St., Ste. 4050, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Major funding by Consumer Watchdog and Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP.