Prop 45 health insurance reform debate heats up

Thursday, October 2, 2014
Prop 45 health insurance debate heats up
Prop 45 would give the insurance commissioner the authority to reject unjustified rate hikes on health insurance.

Judy Graff Fisher and Diana Guth are small business owners who say their health insurance rates have gotten out of hand.

"It has been a struggle. Every single year I dread the open enrollment... because every single year there's a raise," Guth said.

Fisher said her health insurance cost $406 a month in January.

"Imagine my surprise when four days after the open enrollment ended, I got a letter from my carrier that said my insurance was going up to $738 a month," Fisher said.

Guth and Fisher spoke Wednesday at a news conference organized by Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based advocacy organization, to promote Prop 45, a ballot measure that would give the state's insurance commissioner the authority to reject unjustified rate hikes on health insurance. It would affect six million Californians who buy their own insurance or work for a small business.

"Make no mistake, health insurance rates have been going up like a runaway train. Health insurance rates have gone up in the last decade five times faster than the rate of inflation," said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog.

Consumer Watchdog revealed a new TV advertisement featuring members of the California Nurses Association who support Prop 45.

"The health insurance companies are spending $37 million in a very deceptive campaign to try and keep their control over this market without anyone watching over their shoulders," Court said.

The No on 45 campaign is running opposing advertising. In a statement, the campaign said that they have support from a variety of organizations, including insurance companies.

"Prop 45 lines the pockets of the people who put it on the ballot and leaves the rest of us with the bill. That's why doctors, nurses, hospitals, clinics and labor unions like SEIU have strongly opposed this measure," said Robin Swanson, a spokesperson for No on Prop 45.

The Hospital Association of Southern California has come out against the measure.

"We are confident that once voters understand the deceptive, self-serving agenda behind Prop 45, they will reject it," the organization said in a statement.

The measure will be voted on Nov. 4.