Lockyer Probes Kaiser Foundation Health Plan ‘Indirect’ Contributions to Davis Campaign
The state Attorney General's Office is investigating allegations that the not-for-profit Kaiser Foundation Health Plan made "indirect" campaign contributions to Gov. Gray Davis (D) in violation of state and federal law, the Oakland Tribune reports. In a letter to Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D), the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights alleged that the health plan made contributions through a "surrogate political action committee" called the Physicians for the Group Practice of Medicine. The consumer group says that the PAC was created by two for-profit physician groups, Southern California Permanente Medical Group and The Permanente Medical Groups Inc., which "have exclusive contracts" with the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. The letter states: "The sole source of these two groups' income is , in fact, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, which has tax-exempt status. Tax-deductible dollars are, in effect, being laundered through the medical groups to a political action committee whose giving reflects the priorities of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan." Under state and federal law, tax-exempt, not-for profit groups are "required to use their funds only for the specific benefit they are designated to provide to the public" (Geissinger, Oakland Tribune, 6/13). According to Secretary of State's Office records, the PAC contributed a total of $220,000 to candidates for the 2000 election cycle, including $62,000 to Davis. Kaiser spokesperson Tom Debley "dismissed" the allegations and said the physician groups operate separately from the health plan. The Davis campaign committee declined to comment (AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/14). According to the consumer group, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan "is actively lobbying against many pro-patient measures that soon could be on Davis' desk" (Oakland Tribune, 6/13).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.