Regence Gave $70,000 to Defeat Ballot Measures 66 and 67

In doing so, Regence became the only health insurer in Oregon that contributed to the 'no' campaign
The Lund Report
January 28, 2010 -- The victory celebrated by proponents of Ballot Measures 66 and 67, which will raise taxes on corporations and wealthy Oregonians, no doubt left one health insurer booing from the sidelines.
 
Regence BlueCross BlueShield was the only health insurer that made a financial contribution to the opposition campaign. It gave $50,000 to the Portland Business Alliance PAC between July 21, 2009 and Jan. 26, 2010, and another $20,000 to the Oregon Associated Industries PAC, according to reports compiled by Common Cause, which delineated the campaign donations. 
 
In doing so, Regence showed its true colors by joining a group known as Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes, which raised $4.55 million to defeat the measure. None of Regence’s top executives appeared on the list of donors.
 
It’s unclear what Regence stood to gain by defeating these measures. Measure 67, which increased corporate taxes, makes no mention of non-profit organizations. Regence was one of the few, if any, non-profits to give money to the opposition campaign.
 
Regence is incorporated as a taxable 501(m) nonprofit, a special category designated by Congress in 1987 to tax the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. In the four states Regence operates, it paid nearly $84 million in state and federal taxes last year, according to its company Web site.
 
Measure 66 raises personal income taxes by 1.8 percent on earnings above $125,000 for an individual. Regence President Mark Ganz would have paid an estimated $13,000 more in personal income taxes in 2008 off his Oregon compensation that year of $870,000, not to mention another $900,000 he received in Washington, and unknown amounts in Idaho and Utah. Ganz and other Regence executive salaries are not yet known for 2009.
 
Regence did not respond immediately to requests for comment on Thursday.
 
A look at the winning campaign – “Yes” on Measures 66, 67 – revealed that health insurers with Medicaid contracts opened their checking accounts. The largest donation came from CareOregon, which contributed $50,000.
 
The Coalition for a Healthy Oregon, which includes nine Medicaid managed care plans, gave $10,000. Those plans include Cascade Comprehensive Care, Central Oregon Individual Health Care Solutions, Doctors of the Oregon Coast South, Douglas County Independent Practice Association, FamilyCare, Marion-Polk Community Health Plan, Mid-Rogue Independent Practice Association, Oregon Health Management Services and Tuality Health Alliance.
 
The campaign also drew support from the Oregon Health Care Industry, which gave $154,959, and the Nurses United PAC, $50,000,
 
Supporters raised $6.85 million, the majority from teacher and public employee unions. For a complete list of donors either campaigns click here.

 

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