All The Health Insurance Companies’ Men Attack

By Carmen Balber, Capitol Watchdog   | June 23, 2017 |  

Special to EGN  |

Whenever health insurance companies face real political pressure they know it’s best to change the messenger. Their executives and spokespeople clam up and turn to paid surrogates who attack reformers in order to take the public’s eye off the ball: health industry price gouging.

With the heat turning up nationally for California single payer proposal Senate Bill 562 (Lara),  which threatens to upend industry profiteering, the same paid attack dogs who came out against regulating skyrocketing health insurance premiums are back.

Exhibit A: Capitol flack Steve Maviglio. Maviglio was paid more than $145,000 by the health insurance companies to stave off health insurance premium regulation Proposition 45 in 2014, which would have required state approval before health insurance companies raise rates.  

Now, as health insurance premiums skyrocket in the double digits in California, Maviglio has been tagged in again by the health insurers and is going after the sponsors of SB 562’s gouging relief, the California Nurses Association, for hard-nosed tactics to hold lawmakers accountable.

Maviglio, the official corporate stalker of Capitol Watchdog sponsor Consumer Watchdog, has a history of some bald-faced lies, including disseminating fake news videos with a phony photo portraying the house of Consumer Watchdog’s founder as a Soprano-like castle.  Ironically, Maviglio actually owns a castle in Italy, named San Stefano, and his industry paydays help keep the lights on.

Another insurance company voice rising recently against California’s single payer proposal is Micah Weinberg; Weinberg also served as the industry’s media mouthpiece against premium regulation Prop 45 so the health insurance companies didn’t have to show their face. That initiative received 44% of the vote in 2014 despite a $57 million campaign against it by the insurance companies in the lowest turnout election in California history.

Weinberg is paid by the Bay Area Council, whose board members during the Proposition 45 campaign included Bernard Tyson, the CEO of Kaiser, and Paul Markovich, CEO of Blue Shield. These companies donated a combined $31 million to the No on 45 Committee. 

A Covered California sycophant, Weinberg claimed Prop 45 would do violence to its structure and that the exchange could keep premiums down without giving power to the elected insurance commissioner to deny excessive rates.

Weinberg might be asked as he appears on the campaign trail against SB 562 how well that’s worked with double digit premium hikes plaguing Californians in and out of Covered California, after they were denied the relief that Prop 45’s rate regulation would have provided.

Still, the Bay Area Council is openly corporate. Maviglio does everything he can to hide his corporate paymasters. He appears to have lied, for example, when he said he wasn’t working for Mercury Insurance in that company’s twice-failed ballot attempt to deregulate California’s auto insurance market (Prop 17 in 2010 and Prop 33 in 2012).

Maviglio did not disclose he was being paid by a subvendor to Mercury Insurance, Wayne Ordos, while he was on the attack against Consumer Watchdog for preventing Mercury and its CEO for charging drivers more when their insurance lapses, even if they stopped driving. It was a safe guess that he was working for Mercury, given that his Google search ads targeting Consumer Watchdog disappeared the day after election day 2012.  But it was only after the election, when he had to file ethics forms to work for the Assembly Speaker, that he disclosed a consulting contract with Ordos worth up to $100,000 in income.  

The same state ethics forms revealed Maviglio’s financial ties to fracking companies: Maviglio owned up to $1 million in oil company Linn Energy while working for the Assembly Speaker to stop fracking regulation.  And just last month, new Democratic Party chair Eric Bauman reportedly hired and quickly fired Maviglio for his corporate conflicts, including working for AT&T against the interests of communications workers.

Which corporate apologist will take up the bludgeon against SB 562 next?

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