Capitol Alert: Opt-out efforts won't play in California, insurance chief says

ccadelago@sacbee.comOctober 14, 2013 

Peter V. Lee in his office in Sacramento on Dec. 11.

RANDALL BENTON — rbenton@sacbee.com

The chief of California's health insurance marketplace said he has no concerns about advertising campaigns designed to derail the federal health care law, arguing there is no "echo chamber" for such efforts in the Golden State.

Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee has been crisscrossing the state for roughly two dozen town hall meetings and said he has been heckled just once - by an individual speaking out against U.S. intervention in Syria.

In an interview with The Sacramento Bee's Editorial Board Monday, Lee said the policies behind the health care overhaul were embraced by officials from both major political parties. Political roots of the law involve former Republican governors Mitt Romney in Massachusetts and Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, he said.

"The fight over it today I really think is not really about the underlining policies. It's the fight over not liking the president, Obama, and wanting to play for Congress," Lee said, adding that the law adheres to market solutions and provides consumer choice.

Lee was responding to a question about whether he fears conservative marketing campaigns urging potential consumers, particularly young, health people to "opt-out of the health care law would have any sway with Californians. Among the efforts is the now-viral online advertisement from a group with financial ties to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.

"I don't think the Koch brothers are going to spend a dime on having ads run in California," Lee said.

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