Arnold has just logged in the
maximum $21,200 from the big HMO Health Net, which is a state
contractor for public assistance programs like Healthy Families. This
should mean Health Net meets Schwarzenegger’s definition of "special
interest" — an entity whose state contract he controls — since Health
Net is hoping for higher state payments from tomorrow’s budget.
Everybody’s supposed to share the pain in the budget, but Health Net
has reported a particularly healthy cash flow and big payments to their
top execs. (B. Curtis Weston received $6.2million in salary alone, not
including stock, in the most current reporting.)
Health Net already has a big voice in Arnold’s inner court since the
Gov’s chief of staff was the HMO’s top lobbyist. Patricia Clarey should
know that the timing of January 5th contribution, the same week as
Health Net’s budget fate is determined, stinks of special interest
Health Net is also facing legislative pressure for state regulation of
its premiums since a new mandate for employers to pay for health care
takes effect in 2006. And Health Net is opposing reporting even simple
numbers to the state. The HMO is crying foul over AB 432, which simply
requires public disclosure by county of the number of enrollees and the
number of HMO-contracted physicians to makes sure that HMOs like Health
Net meet state requirements for adequate access.
How the Gov handles the HMO’s requests will determine whether Gray
Davis, who received six figures from Health Net since 2000, is gone or
is just being replaced in the sequel by a bigger name.