Viewpoints: Prop. 45 is deceiving and damaging

As an OB/GYN, there is nothing more important to me than the health and well-being of my patients. That’s why I’m speaking out against Proposition 45, a damaging and deceptive initiative on the November ballot.

It gives one politician – the state’s insurance commissioner – sweeping new power over health care, including what benefits and treatment options are covered. I believe that these treatment decisions are best left to doctors and patients, not someone with a political agenda.

Proposition 45 also includes far-reaching provisions that allow outside groups – that could very well have a political agenda of their own – to “intervene” in health care decisions about what benefits are available to consumers, creating delays, chaos and confusion. This process could be used to limit the health care choices available to patients, something I strongly oppose.

With more than 1.4 million Californians newly enrolled in Covered California, the state’s health care exchange, our state has been heralded as a model for the country in how to implement successful health care reform. That’s something we can all be proud of, even as we work to enroll millions more Californians.

So why would anyone want to undermine the unprecedented success of the state’s new health care exchange?

Because the very same group that put Proposition 45 on the ballot has already made more than $14 million in legal fees off a similar process created for auto and home insurance, and stands to make tens of millions of dollars more off this initiative.

The sponsor, the deceptively named Consumer Watchdog, even included language permitting its lawyers to charge as much as $675 an hour for their services, driving up health care costs.

This group, which likes to pay lip service to “transparency,” refuses to disclose who its donors are, leaving us all to wonder what their real agenda is.

While proponents repeatedly claim that this form of regulation exists in 35 other states, that couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s not a single other state in the nation that uses this complicated legal intervener process to regulate the benefits that a patient may receive.

Delays created by this process can take almost an entire year to resolve, on average, which creates further problems for the state’s exchange in trying to meet critical open-enrollment deadlines. In fact, Covered California recently released a report saying that Proposition 45 would have “significant detrimental impacts” on its ability to operate.

Proposition 45 was actually drafted in 2011, but failed to garner enough signatures for the 2012 ballot, kicking it to this year’s election.

No officials from Covered California, doctors, hospitals, or health care providers were consulted in the drafting of this initiative. Had we been consulted, we would have made sure that the independent commission, as established by the state’s exchange, couldn’t be overridden by one politician or by outside interveners whose interests lie in making money or pushing their own political agenda, not in helping consumers and patients.

Now is not the time to turn back the clock on health care reform. Proposition 45 is just the latest flawed ballot measure pushed by special interests looking to benefit themselves at the expense of others. And it hurts patient care.

Please join doctors, nurses, clinics, hospitals, labor and small business groups across the state and vote “no” on 45.