Spending On 2 Health Initiatives Tops $100 Million

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— Two health care-related initiatives on the November ballot have generated more than $100 million in spending, with insurers and doctors leading the fight to defeat both, according to campaign finance reports filed late Thursday.

Opponents of Proposition 45, led by Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc., Wellpoint Inc. and Blue Shield of California, reported spending $42 million, with the campaign carrying $25 million in debt. The Yes on 45 campaign, led by attorneys, reported raising $1.6 million.

The initiative would give the state insurance commissioner authority to approve certain health insurance policy rates, similar to the process for automobile and homeowner's insurance.

Proponents, led by Democratic Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based consumer group with backing from attorneys, say the initiative would force health insurance companies to justify their decisions. Opponents, including a coalition of hospitals, doctors and firefighters, say it would have a detrimental effect on California's ability to deliver lower-cost health coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Separately, doctors and health insurers have spent more than $53 million to defeat Proposition 46, which would raise the cap in medical malpractice cases from $250,000 to $1.1 million and require doctors with hospital privileges to submit to random drug and alcohol tests.

Major contributors to the campaign against it include NORCAL Mutual Insurance Co. and The Doctors Company, two medical liability insurance companies. The Yes on 46 campaign, also led by Consumer Watchdog with support from trial lawyers and patient advocates, spent $7.4 million.

Proposition 48, a referendum about an off-reservation casino northwest of Fresno run by the North Fork Rancheria Band of Mono Indians, has generated a fight from other tribes.

Opponents reported spending $12.5 million this year out of $13.3 million raised. That includes more than $5 million in in-kind billboard, television, Internet and lawn advertising from the Table Mountain Rancheria of Friant.

Supporters of Proposition 48 include Las Vegas-based Station Casinos, which would operate the casino with up to 2,000 slot machines. They reported spending $474,819 this year.

In the race for state controller, Democratic candidate Betty Yee reported raising $1.3 million this year and has spent $1.8 million. She has $225,670 cash on hand.

Her Republican opponent, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, trailed only slightly in fundraising. She reported raising $1.1 million this year and has spent a similar amount. Swearengin reported having less than $90,000 in cash on hand.

An independent expenditure committee backed by the California Teachers Association and other unions reported spending $3.4 million on behalf of incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. The committee reported that it has another $1.8 million left in its campaign account.

Torlakson, who spent eight years as a high school science teacher before entering politics full-time in 1980, is facing a vigorous challenge to his bid for a second term from Marshall Tuck, a former charter school executive and first-time candidate.

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