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Friday, November 7, 2014

Election 2014
David Ford, Noteware Government Relations and Nathan Manske, Manske Government Relations

The following summary highlights some of the results of the November 4, 2014 general statewide election (note absentee ballots are still being counted).

Big Picture Summary

Overall, the Democratic Party continues to dominate California politics.  Governor Jerry Brown (D) won re-election for an historic fourth term, and the Democrats carried all six of the statewide offices.  The Republican Party made modest gains in both houses of the Legislature, preventing the Democrats from keeping their two-thirds supermajorities in both houses.

The effect of losing the supermajority is not as big as it once was, since the Democrats can pass a State Budget with a simple majority.  However, if the Democrats want to pass any tax increases, or place any measures before the voters, they will need two Republican votes in the Assembly and one in the State Senate.

Detailed Results

State legislators going to Congress:
♦  Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) won 11th CD, replacing Rep. George Miller (D).
♦  Senator Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) won 25th CD, replacing Rep. Buck McKeon (R).
♦  Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) won 33rd CD, replacing Rep. Henry Waxman (D).
♦  Senator Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel) won 45th CD, replacing Rep. John Campbell (R).
♦  About 43,000 ballots are left to count in Ventura County.  Incumbent Julia Brownley (D) is 530 votes ahead of Jeff Gorell (R, who is eligible to stay in the Assembly until 2016).

Republicans lost all statewide office races.  Last time a Republican was elected to statewide office was in 2006.

Republicans pick up two seats in the State Senate and dash the Democrats’ supermajority hopes in the Upper House.

  • ♦  The partisan makeup of the State Senate is now 25 Democrats and 14 Republicans.  There is a vacancy in the 35th SD (vacated by Senator Rod Wright of LA), which will very likely be filled by Assemblymember Isadore Hall (D-Compton).
  • ♦  Senate Republicans held the 14th Senate District in the lower Central Valley, which was targeted by the Democrats. Republican state Senator Andy Vidak (R-Visalia), won the seat in 2013 in a Special Election.  Vidak beat the Democratic challenger, Luis Chavez, 55.5% to 44.5%
  • ♦  SD 28, which was previously a Los Angeles-based seat (held by Senator Ted Lieu), was moved to the Inland Empire in the redistricting process. The seat will now be held by Republican Jeff Stone.
  • ♦  Senate Republicans picked up former Democratic State Senator Lou Correa’s seat – the 34th SD by 20 points.  Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen (R) beat former Assemblymember Jose Solorio (D) 60.0% to 40.0%.

Republicans increase their numbers in the Assembly by a net of 3 seats – no supermajority for the Democrats in the Lower House:
♦  The partisan makeup of the Assembly is now 52 Democrats and 28 Republicans.
♦  Jacqui Irwin (D) won the 44th AD (Ventura County), vacated by Republican Jeff Gorell.  She beat Republican Rob McCoy 51.1% to 48.9%.
♦  Although the Assembly Republican Caucus lost the 44th AD, they won four others:
√  16th AD (East Bay) Catharine Baker (R) beat Tim Sbranti (D), 51.9% to 48.1%
√  36th AD (Antelope Valley) Tom Lackey (R) beat Democratic incumbent Steve Fox, 61.5% to 38.5%
√  65th AD (Orange County) Young Kim (R) beat Democratic incumbent Sharon Quirk-Silva, 56% to 44%
√  66th AD (LA South Bay) David Hadley (R) beat Democratic incumbent Al Muratsuchi, 51.4% 48.6%

Same-party races – Under California’s new “Top Two” election system, two members of the same party can face off in a general election.  There were 8 legislative races that included two members of the same party:

  • ♦  Most expensive same-party battle was Pan v. Dickinson— two Democratic Assemblymembers vying for the Sacramento-area 6th Senate District. $4.6 million was spent on the race.  Pan beat Dickinson 53.1% to 46.9%.
  • ♦  As mentioned previously, former Republican Assemblymember Bonnie Garcia lost to Republican Jeff Stone in the 28th SD (Inland Empire).
  • ♦  Jim Cooper (D) beat Darrell Fong (D) 56.1% to 43.9% in the 9th AD (Suburban Sacramento).
  • ♦  Elizabeth Echols (D) of Berkeley received the endorsements of termed out members Nancy Skinner and Loni Hancock, but lost to Tony Thurmond (D) of Richmond 45.7% to 54.3% in the 15th AD.
  • ♦  In San Francisco, David Campos (D) lost to David Chiu (D), 48.6% to 51.4%.
  • ♦  Sandra Fluke (D) lost to Ben Allen (D), 39.2% to 60.8% in the 26th AD (LA South Bay).
  • ♦  Steve Cohn (D) lost to Kevin McCarty in the 8th AD (Downtown Sacramento), 41.7% to 58.3%.
  • ♦  SURPRISE OF THE NIGHT----Democratic Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra (San Fernando Valley) trailing unknown Democrat Patty Lopez, 49.7% to 50.3%.

Ballot Measures – Two Consumer Watchdog-driven ballot measures fail by large margins.
♦  Proposition 45, which would have given the Insurance Commissioner rate regulation authority over health plans, failed 40.2% to 59.8%.
♦  Proposition 46, which would have increased the MICRA cap on pain and suffering awards in medical malpractice cases and required drug testing of physicians, failed 32.8% to 67.2%.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Governor's Final Actions

Yesterday, September 30, marked the legislative deadline for Governor Brown to sign or veto bills presented to him.

In very good news for the Catholic health care ministry and the broader hospital community, Governor Brown vetoed SB 1094 (Lara), which would have given the state Attorney General (AG) the power to unilaterally change conditions of a nonprofit hospital sale, transfer, or affiliation after the transaction is completed.  This unprecedented new power would have introduced an unacceptable level of uncertainty into hospital transactions, and have a chilling effect on the health care marketplace. Additionally, the bill provided virtually no procedural due process before the AG could unilaterally change the terms of a transaction to which the parties have agreed and which the AG previously approved.

At every step in the legislative debate, there was a unified and powerful hospital coalition opposing this bill.  Special recognition goes to the collective and effective advocacy efforts of Shelly Schlenker (Dignity Health), Ron DiLuigi and Chris Manson (St. Joseph Health), and Michael Tou (Providence Health & Services), as well as the Alliance’s very skillful lobbying team of Nathan Manske and David Ford.

The Governor’s veto message on SB 1094 (attached) refers to the AG’s proposed amendments to the regulations (that were announced last spring) as a reason to “wait … before deciding what adjustments, if any, are needed to improve the approval process for nonprofit hospital sales.”  It appears the debate now moves back to the AG and whether she moves forward with the regulatory process, and if so, whether she will revise her proposed regulations based on public comments received in June, as well as the concerns raised during the legislative debate.  The proposed regulations are much more far-reaching that what was contemplated in SB 1094. The Attorney General has until next June 2015 to move the regulatory process forward.  Expect more to come on this matter.

On other legislative matters, overall the results of this legislative session were very positive.  The Governor signed SB 1004 (Hernandez), expanding palliative care in California for Medi-Cal Managed Care beneficiaries.  And the two bills (AB 503-Wiecowski and AB 1952-Pan) that would have created very onerous changes to current laws on community benefit and charity care mandates stalled in the legislature.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New DMHC Abortion Coverage Mandate

The California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) recently announced a new requirement that California health plans, without exception, must cover all legal abortions.   The DMHC took this action in response to earlier decisions by Loyal Marymount University (LMU) and Santa Clara University (SCU) to exclude coverage of “elective abortions” in their employee health insurance plans. The directive effectively precludes Catholic institutional ministries in California that are not self-insured and ERISA-exempt, from purchasing health plans that do not cover voluntary abortions.  The DMHC’s action is a clear violation of the federal ”Weldon Amendment” statute, which prohibits government discrimination against health care providers and insurers on the basis that they choose not to provide, cover, pay or refer for abortions.  However, neither the universities nor their insurance plans have standing under “Weldon” to challenge the DMHC’s action in federal court.  In its current form, “Weldon” is enforced solely by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Of significant concern to the Catholic health ministry is that, for the first time, the DMHC has defined legal abortion as a “basic health care service,” and is prohibiting health plans from “discriminating against women who choose to terminate a pregnancy.” (Emphasis supplied.) The trajectory of policy decisions in California (and elsewhere) could very well move from mandates on insurers to mandates on providers, which would be a significant threat to the Catholic health care ministry.

Attached is a letter, and related materials, sent by the California Catholic Conference (CCC) to OCR requesting they conduct an immediate investigation of the California DMHC’s August 22, 2014 directive that requires health plans to cover all voluntary abortions.  Also attached is a release from the Alliance supporting CCC’s request for an investigation by OCR.

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