What has $4.5 billion and provides millions of dollars per year to the left in California and won’t stop until California has universal, government-run, and fully unionized healthcare? The answer: three foundations created by Blue Cross’ conversion from non-profit to for-profit status from the late-1980s to the mid-1990s: The California Endowment, the California Wellness Foundation and the California HealthCare Foundation.
These three entities, hijacked by the liberal activists on their boards, fund political activity, liberal consumer rights groups such as the Consumers Union (the publisher of Consumer Reports), and the ACLU, the California Teachers Association, Planned Parenthood, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (the latter for something called, the “Transgender Healthcare Action Project”), and on and on, as the millions in grants to the inane, the PC, the left-wing, the simply weird, and occasionally, the sane, stretch into the hundreds.
As an example of the mega-foundations’ increasingly sophisticated political tactics, The California Wellness Foundation gave Karen Bass, a Los Angeles community and healthcare activist, a $12,500 grant on October 24, 2003. Interestingly, the cash came six weeks after Ms. Bass began her campaign for the Democrat Party nomination to the State Assembly. Several staffers involved in the grant process at The California Wellness Foundation also contributed to Ms. Bass’ campaign. Less than two months after the cash grant, Ms. Bass loaned her campaign $34,000, boosting her effort to eclipse the far better known former L.A. City Councilman Nate Holden and two others to win the primary and go on to represent the 47th Assembly District. The very talented and very liberal Assemblymember Bass is now on the fast track to leadership in the Assembly’s powerful Democrat Caucus and holds universal health care as one of her chief interests.
The current target of the billion-dollar healthcare foundation cabal is California’s large and effective non-profit hospital system. To the critics of this system such as Health Access California, the California Budget Project, and Consumers Union (all on the foundations’ payroll, by the way), the non-profits make too much profit, pay their managers too much, and don’t do enough to provide free healthcare to the poor. Add to that the SEIU labor union’s gripe that the hospitals aren’t unionized enough, and you have a potent mix of charges sure to move California’s left-tilting legislature to action.
Hospital systems such as Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, and Catholic Healthcare West counter the critics with hard facts: When $40 billion in required seismic retrofit costs plus capital construction are considered, there is little to no profit remaining, they pay their managers what the market dictates, and they do help the poor by, among many ways, subsidizing money-losing hospitals in underprivileged areas–something for-profit hospital chains are loathe to do.
What will happen if the attack on California’s non-profit hospital system succeeds? The non-profits will likely be forced to convert to for-profit businesses so they can survive by raising the capital needed to compete. This will leave ordinary, working class Californians will little choice in health care. There will then be two systems: the private, for-profit one for the rich and the government-run and fully unionized one for everyone else.
With salaries and benefits in excess of $600,000 per year, I guess we know which hospital system the three healthcare foundation CEOs will use, don’t we?
In the end, this episode shows one fundamental truth: liberals are willing to invest tremendous energy to create for themselves engines of change to forcibly remake America in their image. Where are the three foundations that conservatives have hijacked with a net worth of $4.5 billion?
The solution? Get a few conservatives on the boards of these three foundations to hold them accountable. Unwatched, they will become even more aggressive in funding candidates and causes that are no doubt contrary to their ostensible mission.