Bias alert! I am proud to say that for 25 years I’ve been a board member of Consumer Watchdog, the nonprofit formerly known as the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. You could say I’m a dogged board member.
We are famous for the passage of Proposition 103 in 1988, which saved California motorists over $102 billion — yes, billion — in premiums. And what are dogs excellent at doing? Why, identifying and sniffing out A-Holes, that’s what. We did it in 1988, and now some new ones have appeared for this upcoming election. That’s why I’m urging you to vote Yes on Propositions 45 and 46.
Here’s the simple, unvarnished truth: Proposition 45 requires that health insurance rate hikes get prior approval before the providers capriciously double, triple or quadruple our premiums. A lot of us health insurance consumers have been stunned by how often providers like Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Kaiser and Health Net raise their rates while reducing their coverage. In fact, I’m guessing that opening health insurance bills over the past decade or so has actually caused a few heart attacks. It’s not healthy to open medical bills.
Meanwhile, health insurance companies and Proposition 45 detractors have spent $57 million to defeat Proposition 45. Spending that kind of moolah to prevent any kind of oversight from the Department of Insurance (and yes, your premiums are funding some of these campaigns) proves just how threatening this proposition is to the big dogs and BS artists in the insurance industry. It hurts to think of how many people have been duped by their false advertisements.
Proposition 45 is no nonsense and no bull. One of the many reasons I am so proud of being on the Consumer Watchdog board is that we routinely take on the big boys and a few big girls with boldness and audacity. Case in point: Consumer Watchdog delivered a truckload of actual steer manure — yes, actual bullshit — to Blue Shield’s corporate offices in San Diego last Thursday. If they’re going to shovel such a historic load on us, it’s only fair they get some of it returned to them.
Proposition 45 simply regulates these outrageous and excessive health rate increases we’ve all experienced, just as Proposition 103 regulated out-of-control car insurance rate hikes. That’s it. Thirty-five other states have a similar provision. As California is a leader in progressive issues, once we get this passed more states will follow.
When it comes to Proposition 46, the “Patient Safety Act,” the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders is one thing; doctors without boundaries is quite another. One would think that no one, including doctors, would want a drunk or a drug-addled physician practicing medicine at clinics and hospitals, right? Well, there are plenty of drug and alcohol-addicted physicians operating, probing and diagnosing out there. They are violating their professional ethic to “do no harm” and Proposition 46 holds them to account. It also will track those nefarious doctors who prescribe drugs to people who “doctor shop” for prescriptions they use to sustain addictions. These addicts are dangerous and deadly, as are the health care professionals who aid them. The proposition also corrects artificially low and insulting award caps for medical malfeasance, which haven’t kept pace with inflation.
Just in case this column is tad too scatological for your aesthetics, let me add another anatomical viewpoint, namely the website Lady Parts Justice. Lizz Winstead, the co-creator and former head writer for “The Daily Show,” is outraged (and hysterically funny) about the steady degradation of women’s reproductive rights. Please, if you have relatives in any of the so-called Red States that are threatening women’s’ rights, call them and direct them to ladypartsjustice.com. You’ll find Winstead and Sarah Silverman doing their “parts” to show people just how ludicrous and pernicious the attack on women’s rights really is.
And, if you really want to get riled up about so-called “Tort Reform” efforts by the right wing — the same people attacking Proposition 46 — please watch the 2011 documentary film “Hot Coffee,” a scalding indictment of the way huge corporations spin the media and keep “regular” people from having their day in court. Everyone has heard of, and probably mocked, the large settlement awarded to the woman who sued McDonald’s over spilled hot coffee. Once you watch this film, you’ll see just how duped we all were and how our access to justice is now being diluted state by state, like so much whitener in a cup of coffee. It’s infuriating. Fight back and vote Yes on 46!
Join my barking and growling at these vicious insurance providers. Get the facts at consumerwatchdog.org then get everyone out to vote, including yourself.
Ellen Snortland is the author of “Beauty Bites Beast” and co-author of “The Safety Godmothers.” She teaches writing in Altadena. snortland.com