Governor’s Top Staff Includes Many With Ties to Insurance Industry and Opponents of Healthcare Reform
Santa Monica, CA — Ahead of the new year Governor Schwarzenegger publicly promised to make health care affordable for all Californians. Yet he is creating a personnel loop that gives extraordinary influence to staff with ties to insurance groups and other business interests that have long opposed healthcare reform. Today, Schwarzenegger announced the hiring of lobbyist Chris Kahn as his legislative secretary, in charge of all the governor’s policy negotiations with lawmakers. Kahn’s former lobbying firm, Sloat Higgins, represents Blue Cross of California, the Association of Health Insurance Plans and the Association of California Life and Health Insurance Companies, as well as AIG, one of the world’s largest insurance companies.
Schwarzenegger also promoted Dan Dunmoyer who, until 2005, was the president of the insurance lobbying association known as the Personal Insurance Federation of California, or PIFC. Dunmoyer is now the governor’s deputy chief of staff and cabinet secretary, the gatekeeper for all of California’s regulatory agency dealings with the governor.
“Now that the governor has promoted insurance industry loyalists to be the gatekeepers of his cabinet and his legislative agenda, consumers and patients have a lot to fear,” said Douglas Heller, Executive Director of the nonpartisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.
Michael Prosio, who Schwarzenegger has promoted to chief deputy legislative secretary, was legislative director for the California Restaurant Association until 2004. The California Restaurant Association led the successful referendum against the 2003 Democratic healthcare measure known as SB 2, which has recently resurfaced in part as a healthcare reform proposal of Senate Pro Tem Don Perata.
“The insurance industry and its allies in the fight against real healthcare reform are not just getting access to the Governor’s office, they run the office,” said Heller. “The infusion of industry lobbyists into key positions of the Governor’s staff does not bode well for healthcare reform.”
Schwarzenegger has accepted more than $6.8 million in campaign contributions from the insurance and healthcare industries combined.
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