BUSINESS

Health insurers boost No on 45 funding

"They are worried," said Jamie Court, the Consumer Watchdog president.

California insurers have pumped more than $12 million over the last five days into a campaign to defeat Proposition 45, an initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot that would regulate health insurance rates.

Blue Shield gave $2.66 million, WellPoint $6 million, Kaiser Permanente $3.73 million and Health Net $350,000, according to late filings at the secretary of state’s office.

The latest contributions boost the No on 45’s campaign kitty to $55.4 million. Proponents report having raised about $2.5 million, which they plan to spend on television ads in the Los Angeles market, starting Saturday.

The initiative, which is based on a nearly 30-year-old successful auto insurance reform initiative, would empower the state insurance commissioner to reject proposed health insurance rates that are deemed “excessive.”

The late surge in health insurance company contributions is evidence that opponents want to increase the odds of defeating the ballot measure, which is backed by Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica activist group, the Consumer Attorneys of California and the state Democratic party, among others.

“They are worried,” Jamie Court, the Consumer Watchdog president, said about the health insurance companies.

Voters instinctively support Proposition 45 once they learn that health insurance companies oppose it with tens of millions of dollars to finance television advertisements, Court said.

The No group is boosting its late-campaign spending to make sure that its arguments reach the maximum number of potential voters, spokeswoman Robin Swanson said.

“California is a big state; there are lots of voters,” she said. The Yes campaign has “a very deceptive message that requires lots of communications” during the next two weeks.

Proposition 45 opponents contend that the initiative would boost health insurance rates for 6 million people who buy individual policies. They also say it would also interfere with the state’s new Obamacare program, known as Covered California.
Twitter: @MarcLifsher

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