A bill that would give government agencies a strong hand in determining health insurance rates was lobbied by at least six dozen groups between April and July. This makes it possibly the most controversial of the bills before legislative appropriations committees as they move to clear their suspense files this week.
To be sure, AB 52, sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, has rankled insurance companies and attracted support from consumer groups. But it also has drawn lobbying fire from county governments, local pensions, engineers and machinists, utilities, and even the Hilton hotel chain, according to lobbying filings analyzed by California Watch.
The legislation is among about 300 bills with financial implications for the state, know as suspense bills, that must be acted on this week by the Senate and Assembly appropriations committees before they can be brought up for a floor vote.
Many of those bills were the focus of lobbying by dozens of interest groups between April and July – the most recent quarter for which lobby filings were available.
Among the other most heavily lobbied bills before both chambers’ appropriations committees this week are: SB 450, which proposes reforms to local redevelopment agencies; AB 6, which would reform aspects of state welfare and food stamps programs and has drawn broad support; and AB 29, which would create an Office of Economic Development for the state.
The insurance rate bill is the most heavily lobbied among them and is slated for a vote today. Opposition to the bill has been growing in recent days, particularly after the state Department of Finance recommended against its passage [PDF], citing high costs.
Supporters, which include consumer groups and unions, argue that the bill would protect consumers from rising health insurance premiums and often point to similar laws passed in 35 other states. Opponents, which include many insurers and business groups, have argued among other things that lower premiums could result in lower payouts to doctors and a lower quality of care.
Between groups that have registered support or opposition to the measure and lobbyists who are working to influence it, dozens, if not hundreds, of interests will have weighed in by the time lawmakers make their decision.
As of the April-July quarterly filing period, the interest groups registered to lobby the bill are below. The amounts each spent on lobbying the bill are not explicitly disclosed in the filings.
|AMERICA'S HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS|
|ANTHEM BLUE CROSS (A SUBSIDIARY OF WELLPOINT, INC.)|
|ASSOCIATION OF CALIFORNIA LIFE & HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES|
|BLUE SHIELD OF CALIFORNIA|
|BUTTE, COUNTY OF|
|CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF EYE PHYSICIANS & SURGEONS|
|California Academy of Family Physicians|
|CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF COUNTY TREASURERS & TAX COLLECTORS|
|CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF HEALTH PLANS|
|CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF HEALTH UNDERWRITERS|
|California Association of Nonprofits|
|California Association of Physician Groups|
|California Association of Professional Scientists|
|California Clinical Laboratory Association|
|California Conference of Machinists|
|California Conference of the Amalgamated Transit Union|
|CALIFORNIA HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION/CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF HOSPITALS AND HEALTH SYSTEMS|
|California Medical Association|
|California Mortgage Association|
|California Physical Therapy Association|
|California Professional Firefighters|
|California Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc.|
|CALIFORNIA STATE ASSOCIATION OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS|
|CALIFORNIA STATE PIPE TRADES COUNCIL|
|CHILDREN'S DEFENSE FUND - CALIFORNIA|
|CIGNA HEALTHCARE OF CALIFORNIA, INC.|
|City & County of San Francisco|
|City of Sacramento|
|Consumer Federation of California|
|CORBETT AND ASSOCIATES, MICHAEL Y.|
|COUNTY ALCOHOL AND DRUG PROGRAM ADMINISTRATORS ASSOCIATION OF CALIFORNIA|
|COUNTY MEDICAL SERVICES PROGRAM (CMSP)|
|COUNTY OF YUBA, AND THE YUBA COUNTY WATER AGENCY|
|DEL NORTE, COUNTY OF|
|Delta Dental of California|
|Engineers and Scientists of California Local 20, IFPTE AFL-CIO & CLC|
|FRESNO, COUNTY OF|
|Glendale City Employees Association|
|International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Coast Longshore Division|
|KAISER FOUNDATION HEALTH PLAN, INC.|
|KEENAN & ASSOCIATES|
|KERN, COUNTY OF|
|Laborers' International Union of North America, Local 777|
|Laborers' International Union of North America, Local 792|
|MERCED, COUNTY OF|
|NAPA, COUNTY OF|
|NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INSURANCE AND FINANCIAL ADVISORS - CALIFORNIA|
|National Multiple Sclerosis Society MSCAN|
|NEVADA, COUNTY OF|
|Organization of SMUD Employees|
|PETERSON CONSULTING, INC.|
|PLACER, COUNTY OF|
|Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21, AFL-CIO|
|Professional Engineers in California Government|
|PUBLIC POLICY ADVOCATES, LLC|
|San Bernardino Public Employees Association|
|SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY UNIFIED AIR POLLUTION CONTROL DISTRICT|
|SAN JOAQUIN, COUNTY OF|
|San Luis Obispo County Employees Association|
|SAN LUIS OBISPO, COUNTY OF|
|Santa Rosa City Employees Association|
|SHASTA, COUNTY OF|
|SISKIYOU, COUNTY OF|
|SOLANO, COUNTY OF|
|SONOMA, COUNTY OF|
|STANISLAUS, COUNTY OF|
|State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company|
|TIDES CENTER/CHILDREN'S PARTNERSHIP|
|TULARE COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENTS (TCAG)|
|TULARE, COUNTY OF|
|UNITE HERE! AFL-CIO|
|UNITED HEALTHCARE SERVICES, INC.|
|UNITED HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION|
|United Teachers Los Angeles Political Action Council of Educators (PACE)|
|Utility Workers Union of America, Local 132|
|WESTERN DENTAL SERVICES, INC.|
In order to determine the interest groups lobbying a bill, California Watch created a dataset based on lobbying firm disclosure statements filed so far this year with the secretary of state’s office.
Lobbying firms and their employers typically disclose their lobbied bills in blurbs of text that are not suitable for analysis, so California Watch hired data-entry clerks to extract that information and place it into a structured database.
The first-of-its-kind database, which California Watch plans to release publicly in the coming weeks, will allow users to easily see which special interests registered to lobby any given bill in the Legislature.
We'll keep you posted when it's ready.