Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Baucus Plan Written by former VP of Astroturfing Health Insurance Company

Courtesy of Firedoglake, we have a VERY interesting tidbit from "WilliamOckham" on Emptywheel (another FDL site, but I digress):

Gotta run to a meeting, but I think this is telling. Take a look at the document properties of the pdf that ew links to above. The author is Liz Fowler. The Liz Fowler who was vice president for public policy and external affairs for Wellpoint, the nation’s second-largest health-insurance company, until she re-joined Baucus’ staff in Feb. 2008. She had done an earlier stint with Baucus from 2000-2005.
That smell? It's cordite. It's what tells you that you've found A SMOKING GUN

I just checked, and it's still there. Liz Fowler. And who is she? Well, among other things, she was (prior to working for Baucus) the VP for Public Policy and External Affairs at WellPoint.

And who is WellPoint? Well, they're a health insurance company. But more importantly, if you give 'em a quick Wiki check, they're this:
In July 2008, WellPoint subsidiary Anthem Blue Cross agreed to a settlement with the California Department of Managed Health Care. In order to resolve allegations of improper rescission (cancellation of policies due to claims), WellPoint paid $10 million and reinstated 1,770 policy-holders whose plans they had cancelled. They also agreed to provide compensation for any medical debts incurred by these policy-holders in the meantime. However, WellPoint did not officially admit liability.[5]

In August 2009, WellPoint’s Anthem Blue Cross unit, the largest for-profit insurer in California, contacted its employees and urged them to get involved to oppose the Democratic Party-led Congress' plan for health care reform. "Regrettably, the congressional legislation, as currently passed by four of the five key committees in Congress, does not meet our definition of responsible and sustainable reform," Anthem said in a company e-mail last week. The proposals would hurt the company by "causing tens of millions of Americans to lose their private coverage and end up in a government-run plan." Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit watchdog organization in Santa Monica has asked California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown to investigate its claim that WellPoint Inc. pushed workers to write their elected officials, attend town hall meetings and enlist family and friends to ensure an overhaul that matches the firm’s interests. According to Consumer Watchdog, California's labor code directly prohibits coercive communications, including forbidding employers from "tending to control or direct" or "coercing or influencing" employees' political activities or affiliations. "WellPoint has not been contacted by the California attorney general and has not seen any complaint; therefore, we cannot respond to any questions at this time,” a company spokesperson said. [6]

So, to review. The person who wrote the Baucus plan—the one that Obama is going to use to bring Snowe on board—is intimately tied with a company that engaged in wide-scale "improper recission" around the time that she was employed there, and which (allegedly) all but forced its employees to participate in an effort to astroturf the already-ridiculous town halls.

And MoveOn, CAP, Media Matters et al won't say boo, because they're pants-pissing terrified of losing access to the White House.

But you can. You don't owe them a damned thing. Just remember the magic words.

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