Assembly to Anthem: ‘Have You No Shame?’; Do You?

The total media coverage of Tuesday’s “grilling” of Anthem Blue Cross executives during an Assembly Health Committee hearing consisted of Assemblyman and Chair Dave Jones and Assemblyman Hector De La Torre lobbing gratuitously scathing sound bites at Anthem President Leslie Margolin. What was actually on display was a civics lesson in how lobbyists control your elected officials. 

Here’s some statistics to look over: 

  • 10 of the 18 assemblymembers on the health committee received campaign contributions from Anthem Blue Cross in 2009, according to the secretary of state’s office.
  • Those 10 members received $70,950 last year.
  • One member received $28,000 alone from the insurance carrier to combat a bid by opponents to recall him last year.
  • Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, who was not present at the meeting, received $3,900 from Anthem Blue Cross in 2009 along with $5,000 that was given to the Economic Development Alliance, a PAC which is closely associated with her.
  • Also, state Sen. Ellen Corbett received $1,000 and nearby state Sen. Alberto Torrico netted $6,500 for his campaign for attorney general.

The actually hearing, though, was far less combative than every news account portrayed it to be. Below is a rundown of quotes from the hearing. You can actually match the tenor of each remark with how much an assemblymember gained in campaign contributions.

Assemblyman Anthony Adams (R) $28,000
The Southern California Republican stared down a recall effort last year by anti-tax groups with a hefty $25,000 from Anthem to specifically fight off such a scenario, said he gave the company the benefit of the doubt over their assertion they seek to achieve modest profits between 2.5-5 percent and twisted the line of questioning towards the legislature’s budget woes before saying they were “doing good work.”

“It’s interesting to hear a member talk about insolvency as if the state isn’t on the brink of insolvency itself. I would be remiss to point fingers when we don’t have our own house in order.” 

LOBBYING’S NATIONAL ‘ANTHEM’                              
Members of the Assembly Health Committee who received contributions from Anthem Blue Cross in 2009

Anthony Adams (for recall) $25,000, $3,000
Marty Block $6,900
Connie Conway $4,100
Kevin de Leon $1,000
Bill Emmerson (Senate) $3,950
Ted Gaines $4,500
Isadore Hall III $7,800
Mary Hayashi $3,900
Mary Salas $2,800
Audra Strickland (SOS) $3,000

Assemblyman Ted Gaines (R) $4,100
“I don’t see a big problem making a profit. I thought it was the American Way?”

Assemblywoman Mary Salas (D) $2,800
She sided with a line in Anthem’s testimony regarding insurance companies interest in supporting health care reform when she said lobbyist in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. were “thwarting reform.”

Assemblyman Bill Emmerson (R) $3,950
Emmerson’s entire haul was given to his campaign for Senate this year. He oddly changed the subject by asking Anthem executives about a program for needy families of which they seemed to know nothing about saying, “I want to thank you for your support in helping areas with rural families.”

Assemblyman Hector De La Torre (D) $0
“Do you feel that we need to pass a law to make you treat your customers decently; to act humanely in the way you interact with them so you don’t give them a 39 percent increase with less than a month’s notice?”

Assemblyman Dave Jones (D) $0
“Have you no shame?”


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