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Jamie Court: Insurers Quietly Advertise for Villines

A television advertisement praises Republican candidate for insurance commissioner Mike Villines as a man who “will stop insurance companies from canceling policies for people who get sick.” There’s only one catch: The ad is paid for by insurance companies, even though the televised disclosure states it is, “Paid for by Jobspac, a bipartisan coalition of California employers.”

In fact, $3.8 million from insurance companies paid for the advertisement, including $150,000 from Anthem Blue Cross, the poster child for canceling sick patients when they are sickest.

Only the savvy student of the California secretary of state’s website will ever know insurance companies are trying to elect the commissioner who will regulate them. The campaign contributions are hidden from public view by the largest dirty money laundry machine in American history, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is now targeting electoral races all across America with big corporate cash and similar tactics.

The insurance companies’ pro-Villines effort offers the clearest view of the danger to the public posed by the chamber’s deception. What’s at stake if California insurance companies are allowed to handpick their candidate for insurance commissioner?

California’s insurance commissioner has the right to approve or deny tens of billions of dollars in rate hikes. He is judge and jury for the industry. Allstate has donated $1.15 million to elect Villines and defeat Democratic candidate Dave Jones. In recent years, the insurance commissioner has forced Allstate to lower auto and homeowner rates by a half-billion dollars. Car insurance chief George Joseph, chairman of Mercury Insurance, has contributed $1 million. His company is being prosecuted by the insurance commissioner and faces a possible hearing related to a proposed insurance rate increase. After Mercury lost its campaign to enact the anti-consumer measure Proposition 17 in June, the Los Angeles Times reported that Mercury said it “might carry on the fight for regulation revisions they expect to bring more business their way.” Villines has said he had nothing to do with the insurance companies’ independent effort to influence voters, nor has he spoken out against it. It’s hard to imagine insurance companies betting so much on a candidate who will crack down on their rates and practices. Dave Jones, by contrast, wrote legislation to regulate health insurance company premiums while an Assembly member, angering goliaths such as Anthem Blue Cross. Since landmark auto insurance reform Proposition 103 was enacted in 1988, creating an elected insurance commissioner’s office, drivers have saved $62 billion on their auto insurance bills, according to a 2008 report by the Consumer Federation of America. The reason is insurance company campaign cash has not had a hand in electing an insurance commissioner in a decade. The only insurance commissioner to take industry money, Chuck Quackenbush, resigned in disgrace. Voters have a strong record of not believing insurance company advertising when they see it. The problem this time is they just may not know. Read the original article at The San Francisco Chronicle. Jamie Court is the author of The Progressive’s Guide to Raising Hell, available now.


Author Petra Kuenkel: The Art of Leading Collectively

More than ever before, there is a focus on new, collective forms of leadership—and an urgency to get collective change processes underway, all over the world. What’s behind the recent push to move collective leadership to the fore? Whether we find ourselves in societal or organizational change, it requires collective energy and drive to bring […] Read More

10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More

Top 8 Chelsea Green Books the Self-Styled Oregon Militia Should Read

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Author David Stroh: First Steps to Becoming a Systems Thinker

Systems thinking is often seen as something relegated to scientific and business analysis – economics, resource depletion, and climate. However, Systems Thinking for Social Change focuses on how to use systems thinking to make breakthrough progress on intransigent social problems. We asked author David Stroh how this approach can make an impact, and how readers […] Read More

Use Systems Thinking to Make Lasting Social Change

What can be done when our best intentions create unintended problems—such as temporary shelters increasing homelessness or food aid accelerating starvation?After decades of helping change-makers in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors address tough social problems, systems-thinking expert David Stroh shares the pioneering framework that both demystifies systems thinking and shows how it can lead […] Read More
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