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Will Patients Beat Blue Shield Again… This Time With the First Online Ballot Petition for Rate Regulation

Shouldn’t the CEOs of health insurance companies like Blue Shield have to sign under penalty of perjury that their rate hikes are justified? If the first online signature gathering for a ballot petition is successful, Californians will vote on that proposition in November, and are almost sure to approve. One year ago I stood at the Blue Shield headquarters in San Francisco with hundreds of patients and nurses angry at the health insurance company’s planned rate increases of as much as 86% for some policyholders. The outrage and spotlight were too much for the insurance company and Blue Shield backed down from the hikes that very morning. Today I am returning to the scene with a group of patients, who again face double-digit premium hikes from Blue Shield. Guilt and shame only go to so far for health insurance companies. That’s why the patients will be signing a ballot petition this morning to force Blue Shield and other health insurance companies in California to publicly justify their rates, under penalty of perjury, and get approval before any rate hikes take effect. In California, health insurance companies can now raise rates at will. If Consumer Watchdog Campaign collects 505,000 signatures from the online ballot petition at JustifyRates.org, Californians can vote to require insurance companies to get approval before raising rates. That’s a proposal California’s legislature has failed to approve for the last half decade. The health insurance rate regulation signature gathering effort is one of the first online volunteer efforts ever. Registered voters can print the short petition, sign it and return it at JustifyRates.org The experiment in on-line all volunteer signature gathering – combining email with a US mail rollout of petitions could change the balance of power in California’s health insurance industry. It’s attracted the attention and support of US Senator Diane Feinstein, who is emailing registered voters in California to seek their signatures online at JustifyRates.org What’s particularly outrageous is Blue Shield, purportedly a nonprofit insurance company, is making more money than it knows what to do with. Blue Shield has $3.1 billion in excess surplus, 1400% more than the state requires, but still plans to raise rates on more than 200,000 policyholders. The problem is that unless our ballot initiative passes, Blue Shield does not have to ask permission to raise rates in California. Insurance companies can raise rates at will, whether California’s insurance commissioner approves or not. Health insurance premiums in California have gone up 153% in the last decade, while inflation rose just 29%, according to the California HealthCare Foundation. 35 states have the power to reject unjustified health insurance rate increases but California does not. Health insurance companies like Blue Shield will continue to sit on billions in cash while raising rates if they and their CEOs are not accountable to the public. Registered California voters can make them accountable at JustifyRates.org with a one page official ballot petition and a US postage stamp to mail it back. Follow Jamie Court on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RaisingHellNow
Jamie Court is author of The Progressive’s Guide To Raising Hell.


California Democratic Lawmakers Revive Schwarzenegger Scam To Sell Off Historic State Properties in Order to Save Their Pay

California’s Democratic state lawmakers announced a budget plan to keep their paychecks coming that included one of the worst ideas Arnold Schwarzenegger had since impregnating his kids’ nanny. If lawmakers don’t pass a budget today, they lose their pay tomorrow. So Assembly Democrats have included in their hastily-assembled budget plan Schwarzenegger’s political love child, selling […] Read More..

Do-Not-Track-Online Goes On National Map With Rockefeller Bill

U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller did the American people a great favor today by introducing the Do-Not-Track-Online Act of 2011. iPhone and Android users should not have to worry about being spied on by their smart phones. We should be able to say no to Google and Facebook when they violate our privacy daily by tracking […] Read More..

Will the President Gridlock West LA as Prelude to Earth Day? He Should Read the Gas Station Signs

The email warnings are flying in West Los Angeles about how the President’s motorcade will once again gridlock afternoon rush hour. The cause: two mistimed, ill-placed Hollywood fundraisers on opposite sides of the traffic jam known as West LA. There’s probably no major city as pro-Obama as Los Angeles, or state so solidly in his […] Read More..

Google CEO for Commerce Secretary? How About Madoff for SEC?

The strong buzz in Washington, DC is that Google CEO Eric Schmidt is President Obama’s top choice for Commerce Secretary and an appointment is coming soon. The CEO who made billions collecting our personal information online and serving us up to advertisers, the guy who created online privacy problems, would head the federal agency responsible […] Read More..

Breaking News: We Stopped Google In Court

It’s not every day that you beat one of America’s biggest companies in court. Today a federal judge agreed with Consumer Watchdog’s strong anti-trust arguments and prevented Google from gaining a monopoly over digitized online books. Consumer Watchdog was of the one first to call for the US Justice Department to block the Google Books […] Read More..