BURBANK -- There's a health-care debate in the district, and it
involves bills and amendments and seniors and one Republican congressman.
Critics of Rep. James Rogan (R-Burbank) held a newsconference last
week to protest the congressman's choice of one HMO bill over another,
and charge him with misleading the public in a series of television
advertisements promoting his position on health-care reform.
Rogan's staff struck back, pointing out that one of the event's
sponsors, Americans for Democratic Action, gave $1,000 to Rogan's opponent in an upcoming election, state Sen. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank).
Americans for Democratic Action and the Congress of California
Seniors, another group that is often critical of Rogan, accuse the
congressman of voting one way then distorting his record in misleading
ads and other communications with voters.
"He is the master of the politics of confusion," Lila Garrett,
president of the Southern California Americans for Democratic Action,
said at the rally. "Remember his promises, expect the opposite, and you
won't be disappointed."
The reform bill Rogan voted for in Congress, she said, has loopholes
throughout. Glendale's congressman voted against a bill sponsored by
Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) that ultimately
passed the House of Representatives.
Under the alternative bill Rogan supported, patients lose their right
to sue in state court and are not able to appeal HMO decisions to an
truly independent review board, Garrett said.
But Scott Corley, a Rogan staffer who works on health care, paints a
completely different picture.
Allowing patients to file similar lawsuits in both state and federal
courts is unnecessary, he said.
The review board is a different matter, however. Corley conceded the
bill Rogan supported would set up a review board that would only
determine if an HMO followed a patient's policy when determining if it
was justified in denying care. Proponents of Norwood-Dingell say that
bill provides for review that must take into account the best interests
of the patient.
But no bill is perfect, Corley said, and there are other reasons Rogan
voted for an alternate, including limiting punitive damages that bankrupt
businesses and drive up the cost of health care. The substitute bill also
went further in other areas of patient protections, he said.
But the differences don't end there. Another piece of the successful
bill Rogan and his detractors cannot agree on is if the legislation makes
employers who do not make medical decisions liable if sued.
Norwood-Dingell supporters, and the authors themselves, say businesses
are protected if they don't make decisions; Corley said that is open to
The four health-care reform bills debated in Congress last year were
remarkably similar, Corley said. It's all election-year politics, he
"We get into minute differences, but there is a titanic gulf that has
been created by a partisan fight," he said.
Garrett said Rogan's opposition to the bipartisan bill shows where he
is coming from.
"Given the choice between voting for the people or the insurance
companies, Rogan consistently chooses insurance companies," she said.
Corley said many Republicans voted for the most popular bill because
they didn't want to be cast as anti-reform in an election year.
"In the end, many Republicans realized the bill would pass, so they
voted for it. Congressman Rogan was unwilling to do that."