Public Financing Measure Raises Health Care Issues
Insurance companies have provided more than half of the $1.3 million in donations to the campaign against a measure on the Nov. 7 statewide ballot that would establish a publicly-financed election system, the Los Angeles Times reports (Morain, Los Angeles Times, 9/26).
Proposition 89 would allow candidates who collect a certain number of signatures and $5 donations to be eligible for public financing for their campaigns if they agree not to accept private contributions. The measure would fund the public financing election system through an increase in corporate taxes and the $5 contributions collected by candidates (California Healthline, 9/21).
The initiative would cap individual donations to legislative candidates at $500 and to candidates for statewide offices at $1,000. Individuals could donate no more than $15,000 annually to candidate-related campaigns.
Under current law, individuals can donate $3,300 to legislative candidates and $22,300 to gubernatorial candidates. There is no overall cap on individual donations under current state law.
Proposition 89 also would cap at $10,000 direct corporate donations to ballot measures campaigns. The language of the measure would exempt many trial lawyers from the campaign limits because trial firms typically are established as limited liability partnerships rather than corporations, and Indian tribes also would be exempt because they are governments.
Insurance companies and trial attorneys often oppose one another on legislative issues, according to the Times.
The California Nurses Association is the measure's largest financial contributor. The union spent $1.4 million to qualify the measure for the ballot and has donated an additional $822,000 to the campaign.
According to the Times, CNA says its sponsorship of Proposition 89 was spurred by health care companies' opposition to ballot measures aimed at expanding health care coverage, specifically more than $80 million in donations from drug companies in the 2005 special election campaign over measures to create a state prescription drug discount program (Los Angeles Times, 9/26).