Last January, governor Schwarzenegger’s expensive and unwieldy proposal for so-called “universal” health care finally gasped its last breath, after a long year of lobbying and coalition-building by the governor’s team. Good thing, too, as I wrote at the time.
But those who advocated it are more active than ever. Daniel Zingale, who spearheaded the governor’s initiative, has joined the California Endowment, a foundation with $3 billion in assets, to lobby for health reform in Sacramento. These folks mean business: The California Endowment spent $10 million in advertising for health “reform” in 2007. But the Endowment is not a charity that has succeeded in raising money through voluntary philanthropic donations. Rather, it is sitting on a pot of gold that the state taxed from Blue Cross of California’s surplus back in 1996, as a cost of getting the state’s permission to convert to a for-profit health plan.
And to what end? Such conversions were necessary because non-profit health plans were increasingly poorly capitalized as health costs rose, and threatened with insolvency. For-profit conversions simply allow beneficiaries to transfer some of the risk of rising health costs to shareholders. The California Endowment does some valuable research. Nevertheless, by imposing a special tax on Blue Cross to found this unaccountable organization, California has actually reduced the amount of money available for private health care, and increased the amount of money “invested” in advertising campaigns supporting government-run health care.
Although legally a “private” foundation, the California Endowment demonstrates the behavior of taxpayer-funded lobbying outfit. Taxpayers should demand that their dollars go to actual health care, instead of lobbying for more government control of health care.