Insurance Rate Initiative Defeated in California

Healthcare reform initiatives may be on shaky ground after Republicans won important seats this midterm election, but health reform advocates are claiming victory in California after defeating an insurance rate initiative.

As the Republicans won the majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as big governor races, healthcare reform progress is on unsteady ground.

In particular, Medicaid expansion is facing new hurdles in states. In Arkansas, the private option program has to be reauthorized every year with three-quarters of the majority. However, the new governor is unenthusiastic about the program and Republicans picked up more seats in the state house and senate.

However, health reform advocates are claiming one victory. In California, voters defeated an initiative that would have allowed the state’s insurance commissioner to reject health insurance rate hikes for residents who buy their own policies or work for small businesses.

Groups opposing Proposition 45 included more than 250 groups representing doctors, nurses, healthcare providers, hospitals, clinics, business groups, and labor organizations. They feared the initiative would give one person too much power and could harm the state’s ability to delivery low-cost coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

“Allowing outside intervenors to make millions off of consumers while holding up healthcare decisions was just one of the fundamental flaws of Prop 45,” Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “Voters fundamentally rejected the concept of giving one politician the power to determine healthcare benefits and rates.”

Insurance companies poured millions of dollars into campaigns against the proposition. National Nurses United and the California Nurses Association (CNA) took issue with the $57 million advertising campaign by the state’s biggest insurance giants.

“The endorsement of the California Nurses Association means Prop. 45 is good for patients,” Deborah Burger, co-president of CNA, said in radio ads leading up to the election.

However, academics and healthcare experts, as well as board members of Covered California, all opposed the initiative and raised serious concerns about how Prop. 45 would create obstacles for those who need health insurance through the state’s exchange.

“Prop 45 was an ill-conceived measure that would have been a step backwards against the progress made by the Affordable Care Act and our state’s health exchange, by giving a politician power over healthcare decisions that should have involved doctors and their patients,” John Maa, MD, of the San Francisco Medical Society, said. “California voters saw through this deceptive measure motivated by self-interest, and opposed it wholesale.”

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