Beth Gaines has vested interest

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Beth Gaines voted against a bill to control health insurance costs last week. The bill (AB 52) specifically says: It prohibits increasing insurance premiums rates without first submitting data to the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) or the California Department of Insurance (CDI). Then the insurance company would post online for public review their request for increases alongside their data to prove their need for an increase in rates. Then the company and the public could discuss these rate increases in a public hearing. I called Gaines’ office and her staff said the bill “let politics decide insurance premium rates.” Last January Blue Shield announced that they were raising premiums by 59 percent on “individual” polices. Later when Blue Shield was challenged by the legal guidelines from the new health care bill passed last year, they backed off their original request. Would they have backed off without a challenge? Gaines’ spokesperson said that “California is jumping the gun” by introducing these laws before the health care bill is implemented. So we shouldn’t have a voice now? Gaines received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Health Net, Blue Shield and California Health PACs. After all, she was an insurance broker and sold these policies. But I wonder. We have a health insurance oligarchy, much like we have with oil, sugar, coffee and such, where they get together and agree to push prices up for their own self-interests. When we have this type of marketing climate where the buyer has no way of walking away from unreasonable raises in rates, what is wrong with having someone asking them to prove that there is a need to raise these rates? What is wrong with our elected-official speaking for the constituents instead of the insurance companies that supported her for so many years and ended up putting her into office? When is she going to speak for us? Dink Lane, Garden Valley