Schwarzenegger’s reforms seen as influenced by cash

Published on

Modern Healthcare

When California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger assembled more than 100 business, labor and medical leaders for his Summit on Health Care Affordability last week, his staunchest critics were quick to point out how he sidestepped one key driver behind the state’s runaway healthcare costs: insurers’ and drugmakers’ soaring profits and administrative costs. And the glaring omission, they say, boils down to one thing-cold hard cash.

According to figures furnished by the bluntly named Web site, the incumbent Republican governor has amassed $1.85 million in campaign contributions over the past three years from drug companies and insurers — representatives of which were on the summit panel.

“The political discussion of healthcare reform will continue to ignore the 900-pound gorilla in the room until the influence of insurer and drug company money is stripped out,” says Jerry Flanagan of, a project of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.

The project was launched to support the passage of Proposition 89, the so-called “clean money” measure that has qualified for the state’s November ballot. Sponsored by the California Nurses Association-which picketed the summit-the measure aims to reduce the financial influence of special-interest groups by limiting annual campaign contributions to $15,000 per donor, among other things.

The measure is aimed at curbing the generosity of such companies as WellPoint, which became the nation’s largest health insurer after the Schwarzenegger-appointed Department of Managed Health Care signed off on its $16.4 billion merger with Anthem in 2004. WellPoint has donated $256,600 to the governor’s campaign, including $22,300 since November 2005, when the managed-care department determined that the insurer’s Blue Cross of California unit had not violated its legal commitment by imposing double-digit premium hikes in the months after the merger.

But WellPoint isn’t the only company chipping in to aid with Schwarzenegger’s re-election campaign. PacifiCare Health Systems has made a total of $83,500 in contributions both before and after the state managed-care department approved its $9.2 billion merger with UnitedHealth Group in December 2005, and drugmakers have chipped in $1.08 million since 2003.

“It’s so fundamentally out of control that we didn’t have a choice but to do this,” California Nurses Association Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro said of Proposition 89. “This is a very serious effort at trying to get people elected who will make policy free of coercion.”

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

Latest Videos

Latest Releases

In The News

Latest Report

Support Consumer Watchdog

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, press releases and special reports.

More Releases