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Foes Of Proposition 33 Celebrate, Target Health Insurance Next

Omar Shamout |
November 7, 2012 | 8:32 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter


For the second time in three years, Mercury Insurance co-founder Gary Joseph failed in his campaign to pass a proposition to allow auto insurers in California to give customers "loyalty discounts." This year, he spent about $16 million in an attempt to pass Prop. 33 -- an initiative nearly identical to 2010's Prop. 17.

As of Oct. 30, public support for Prop. 33 among California voters was waning but still ahead, according to a California Business Roundtable survey. Butt 55 percent said thanks, but no thanks to Joseph at the ballot box on Tuesday.

“The Auto Insurance Premium Initiative” would have allow ed insurance customers to take their continuous-coverage discounts to a different insurer offering a lower rate. That may sound great if you’re a long-time driver, but any new driver looking for insurance coverage would have faced a much higher premium despite their driving record.

After defeating Joseph again, Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog said they would seek a ballot measure in 2014 to bring the health insurance industry in check.

"Last night's populist victory against the head of California's fourth-largest insurance company means we can beat big insurance companies when we have the truth and the public on our side," said Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog.

The L.A. Times argued that it Prop. 33 would have led to more uninsured drivers on the road, not less as the "Yes on 33" campaign asserts.

As Joseph admitted to the Times, his primary goal was to create more business for Mercury. That doesn’t help people like Nan Brasmer, President of the National Alliance of Retired Americans, who said she would have faced a hefty fee hike when buying insurance again after a lengthy illness.

But supporters of the proposition, such as the vice chairman for of the Congress of Racial Equality California, said it would have helped consumers in poorer neighborhoods find a better rate. 



What Is Proposition 33?

Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage of the California Propositions here.

Reach Staff Reporter Omar Shamout here or follow him on Twitter.



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