Schwarzenegger Criticized for Insurance Bill Veto, Campaign Contribution
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is being criticized by a government watchdog group for accepting a $105,000 donation from the American Insurance Association on the same day he vetoed a bill (SB 399) that would have required insurers to pay medical costs when Medi-Cal beneficiaries are injured in an accident caused by an insured driver, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports.
Opponents of the bill by Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Norwalk) said it would have allowed health care providers to decline reimbursement from Medi-Cal and seek higher payments from private insurers.
Schwarzenegger in his veto message on Friday wrote, "I understand that health care providers should be reasonably compensated for services they provide, but this bill proposes a solution that provides for inflated medical and settlement costs."
However, Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights Executive Director Doug Heller said Schwarzenegger placed "politics above the needs of taxpayers," adding, "This bill would have alleviated $225 million of taxpayer waste every year."
Rob Stutzman, a spokesperson for the governor's re-election campaign, said there was no reason to return the contribution. He said, "Obviously, the governor's never made a policy decision that has any connection to contributors to a campaign" (Williams, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 10/11).
The "anti-Schwarzenegger group ArnoldWatch accused him of trading [his veto] for a $105,000 contribution" but Schwarzenegger "vetoed a similar bill last year," Dan Walters, a Sacramento Bee columnist, writes. Walters asks if Schwarzenegger is "just the pro-business Republican he says he is, or is his a pay-to-play administration as his critics allege" (Walters, Sacramento Bee, 10/12).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.