Arnold Watch has noted the
unequal access of average people with real problems to this Governor.
Now Schwarzenegger’s Department of Managed Health Care is breaking with
a tradition that goes back to the Wilson Administration of holding
public hearings for every major HMO merger and acquisition.
The deal at issue is Anthem’s $15 billion acquisition of Wellpoint
Health Networks, parent company of Blue Cross of California, which
serves 7 million Californians. Blue Cross and its executives have given
the Governor’s various committees $92,400. The execs that control those
PAC contributions stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars if the
acquisition is approved without wrinkles. Wellpoint CEO Leonard
Schaeffer will make up to $335 million in cash and stock options.
Wellpoint is also a corporate client of the investment firm Dimensional
Fund Advisors, which the Gov reports owning at least a $1 million share
of on his economic interest statement .
The sunshine governor should keep with the tradition of HMO regulators
over the last decade and give patients, doctors, nurses, businesses and
pharmacists the opportunity to comment at public hearings on the
potential problems of Indiana-based Anthem, which is being sued by
Connecticut doctors for outrageous billing abuses, taking over care for
millions of California patients. Pete Wilson’s regulator even made
material modifications to other HMO mergers based on public hearing
comments. Our letter documenting the need for hearings can be read at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/healthcare/pr/pr004274.php3 .
In particular, there are two Blue Cross patients who might like to have
their say – Pat and Dave Parker. They’re the 60-something couple who
tracked Arnold down at his Lakers sky box fundraiser in December to
deliver a letter about their problems with Blue Cross premium
increases. (Read more about them at: http://www.arnoldwatch.org/blogs/blogs_000017.php3)
Even though a Schwarzenegger aide promised they would be receiving a
call from the Gov’s office, five months later no one from the Gov’s
staff has bothered. Of course, the Parkers didn’t pay to get in. We
suspect Leonard Schaeffer gets his calls returned much faster.