California AG Called To Investigate Insurance Companies' Anti-Health Reform Advocacy
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The Los Angeles Times reported today that the California-based Consumer Watchdog has submitted a letter to Attorney General Jerry Brown calling for an investigation of insurance giants Wellpoint and United HealthCare (UHC). The complaint comes in response to the insurance companies’ practice of actively encouraging employees to engage in anti-health care reform political activity. According to Consumer Watchdog, “while coercive communications with employees may be legal, if abhorrent, in most states, California’s Labor Code appears to directly prohibit them.”
UHC was exposed last month for creating a call center that directed employees to anti-health reform protests. More recently, Wellpoint launched a “ grassroots Web site” urging employees to “make [their] voice heard” by contacting Congress in opposition to health reform. Now it appears that these tactics may have been a violation of California law. According to the watchdog organization’s letter, UnitedHealthCare’s anti-reform hotline and Wellpoint’s astroturf lobbying website may violate California laws meant to prevent employers from influencing the political activity of its employees.