Consumer Watchdog Slams ‘Covered California’ Obamacare

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Wow, Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog is unleashing a severe volley against Covered California, saying the state Obamacare system's new data show that nearly one-half million Californians are being cancelled and will be forced to buy more expensive insurance.

But the political appointees who run Covered California's board (more on that bunch later), refused to extend the cancellation date a year as President Obama suggested. Court, in a terse statement, says, "Half of those cancelled policyholders are getting policies that are little different from the ones cancelled … half of cancelled California policyholders are paying more, in some cases a lot more, for policies that are worth no more under the Affordable Care Act." Read on:

Court was a big supporter of Obamacare, but he says the media's coverage that the forced cancellations are targeting "junk" insurance policies is basically B.S.:

Our consumer group supported the ACA, and its research and education inspired its bans on junk insurance, preexisting condition limitations and medical underwriting. The fact is, however, that cancelled policies in California are, by and large, not junk. Their physician and hospital networks under old policies are far broader than under the Covered California plans.

What's riling up Jamie Court is the data just released by Covered California itself. Some big headlines today touted the data as fairly positive, with the Los Angeles Times and others focused on 360,000 people who signed up.

But check out why the 360,000 signed up: Here's Covered California's data, showing that 900,000 "not grandfathered" Californians have been left adrift without coverage because of Covered California's board actions.

Nine hundred thousand — that's a lot of moms, dads and children forced out of their insurance plans.

Who are these five people — this powerful board of Sacramento insiders that nobody elected — who can make a decision like this? That's the fascinating part, as explained on the Covered California website, below:


Covered California
See any regular Californians on this board that votes on the health future for regular Californians?

Who are Kimberly Belshé, Diana S. Dooley, Paul E. Fearer, Susan Kennedy and Robert Ross?

Kimberly Belshe is Arnold Schwarzenegger's former Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, the massive health care entity that spent wildly under Belshe — even as Arnold insisted it was getting a grip on costs.

Diana S. Dooley is Jerry Brown's Secretary of California Health and Human Services. Her background is in advertising and PR, plus she's a lawyer. She can be seen as Jerry Brown's direct hand on the board.

Paul E. Fearer is a senior executive VP and director of human resources for UnionBanCal Corporation and its primary subsidiary, Union Bank N.A. You can bet his insurance was not cancelled.

Susan Kennedy was chief of staff to Arnold Schwarzenegger, and played a direct and key role in policies that left Arnold tanking and on the outs with the public. Good job! Now she's senior policy advisor with Alston + Bird LLP, a big law firm involved in intellectual property, corporate and tax law and health care.

Dr. Robert K. Ross is CEO for The California Endowment, the massive health foundation established, as his bio says, to champion "the cause of health coverage for all children." Really.

Jamie Court reasons that the attitude taken by these five board members of Covered California could doom the success of the system in California:

It's the continuation of a troubling logic that you are either for the ACA, and the relief it extends to 48 million uninsured, or against it. That type of reasoning will alienate the middle class, which is largely without subsidies and facing a real crisis in cost in states like California.

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