Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross Support Ballot Initiative To Alter State Consumer Protection Law
Kaiser Permanente has given its support to a ballot initiative that seeks to weaken the state's consumer protection law, which allows consumers to sue businesses to "stop unfair and deceptive business practices," by "sharply limit[ing] who can sue and under which circumstances," the Los Angeles Times reports. California's Unfair Competition Law is the only consumer protection law in the United States that allows people to sue companies even when the plaintiff has not been harmed personally. Consumer groups last year won a judgment against Kaiser under the law. Proposition 64 would limit lawsuits to people who can show that they have lost money or property as a result of the actions of the companies. It also would make it more difficult for individuals to file lawsuits aimed at obtaining "sweeping court orders to halt particular business practices statewide," according to the Times.
Supporters of the ballot initiative, including Kaiser and Blue Cross of California, say their efforts are intended to help prevent frivolous and costly lawsuits. However, consumer groups say that the supporters of Proposition 64 are seeking to take "valuable protections" away from California residents, the Times reports. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) recently indicated support for the initiative, saying that he opposes "shakedown lawsuits," but the governor has not officially declared a position on the proposition, according to his office. According to the Times, the campaign for the measure is "shaping up to be the among the most costly ballot fights in recent memory." Proposition 64 supporters to date have raised more than $7 million for the campaign (Halper/Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 7/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.