WASHINGTON, D.C. — Consumer Watchdog today called on Congressional Democrats to support a robust public option and rate regulation as a part of any health insurance reform.
Speaking at a news conference with independent filmmaker Michael Moore, hosted by Public Citizen, Consumer Watchdog’s John M. Simpson said that any plan that would require people to buy health insurance without guarantees to make it affordable would be unconscionable.
“These Blue Dog Democrats seem to know only one trick,” said Simpson. “That’s to roll over — to roll over for the insurance industry. They aren’t Blue Dogs, they’re insurance company lapdogs.”
Simpson predicted that if the Democrats don’t stand up to the insurance industry and Congress passes health insurance “reform” without affordability guarantees, Democrats will lose their majority in both houses of Congress.
Mandating that everyone must buy insurance from private companies simply guarantees huge profits for the industry, he said. It is not reform. Representatives of Public Citizen, the California Nurses Association, the United Steelworkers Union and the National Organization of Women also spoke at the news conference.
Consumer Watchdog is the nonpartisan, nonprofit consumer group that pioneered the most successful insurance premium regulation law in the nation, California’s Proposition 103. Consumer Watchdog has said only the extension of such "prior approval" regulation to health insurance can begin to make insurance affordable in the wake of double digit premium increases that have dramatically out paced wages. Under the proposals in Congress, Americans who do not purchase insurance policies would pay thousands of dollars in penalties.
Consumer Watchdog has repeatedly called on the Obama Administration and Congress to adopt California’s insurance rate regulation that requires prior approval of rate increases, allowing an elected insurance commissioner to reject rates deemed excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory. Unlike other rate regulation, "prior approval" allows an insurance commissioner to review and reject rates before they are passed on to the consumer.
The health care industry and its lobbyists have hosted at least 130 fundraisers this year for members of Congress who sit on the five key committees responsible for crafting a health care overhaul, according to a Consumer Watchdog analysis. Health industry PACs and individuals donated $30.7 million to members of those committees over the same period of time.
Consumer Watchdog called on members of Congress to cancel upcoming fundraisers sponsored by the health care industry, and return any campaign contributions received from the industry, until health reform legislation is complete.
“Who can tell which hard decisions on health reform are being made over $1,000 high-balls shared by lobbyists and politicians while the public’s locked out of the room?” said Carmen Balber, Washington Director for Consumer Watchdog. “The public can’t be confident in health reform if Congress insists on accepting industry money while legislating.”
The fundraisers included donations ranging from a low $500 to attend a “Healthcare Industry Reception” for Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR) in July, a $1,500 Mexican dinner at La Loma with Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), to a $5,000 “PAC Gold Host” contribution for a breakfast event benefiting Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).
Download data analysis of fundraisers, campaign contributions and health care lobbyists here: www.ConsumerWatchdog.org/resources/healthcarefundraisers.xls
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Consumer Watchdog is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, D.C. and Santa Monica, CA. Find us online at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org