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How Much From Special Interests?

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Dec 17, 2003 - 12:44 PM

Will HMOs Jingle All The Way To The Bank On Arnold's Watch?

by Jamie Court
 
With health care costs skyrocketing, a new California Health Care Quality Improvement and Cost Containment Commission (AB 1528 Cohn) may have the most important job in the state - reining in waste, fraud and profiteering by HMOs, hospitals, doctors groups, and pharmaceutical companies. The Commission - created along with Senate Bill 2's new mandate for employers to pay for health coverage - has plenty of work to do, but there's one little problem. The Governor has yet to make his Commission appointments.

Why wouldn't The Eraser want to wipe out unnecessary health care costs? Sure, profiteering HMOs, drug-makers and other health care companies have paid up to retire Arnold's campaign debt - including Blue Cross executive vice president Dennis Weinberg ($21,200), PacifiCare ($31,200), Lawrence Higby, CEO of Apria Healthcare Group ($31,200), Baxter Health Care ($21,200), Allergan ($20,000), and Johnson & Johnson ($21,200). But, as we all know, this Guv does not yield to special interests.

What else could be behind the action figure's procrastination? You see Schwarzenegger supports the Chamber of Commerce's referendum of SB 2, which a judge kicked off the March ballot Friday. Putting the cost control commission to work might mean shining a spotlight on the health care system's excesses and finding a way to make health insurance more affordable. Then SB 2 might start sounding more reasonable to businesses... and the chances of success for the Chamber's referendum, likely to wind up on the November ballot, shrink.

If Arnold wants a good reason to make his appointments soon, he should call back the couple in their early sixties who, despite their sky box tickets to Friday's Lakers game provided by ArnoldWatch, could not get much face time with the Guv. Pat and Dave Parker, who are being priced out of the health care system by Blue Cross, could only hand Schwarzenegger a letter with their phone number to which he has yet to reply. The Chamber may be the financial muscle behind many of his political plans, but the Parkers are the soul of Schwarzenegger's party. Arnold should spread the Noel beyond his circle of donors.


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