Is Women’s Healthcare A Purity Issue? On The Colorado Gubernatorial Race

With all of the brouhaha about ‘purity tests’ for Democrats, it’s worth looking at one possible Democratic candidate for governor of Colorado, current lieutenant governor Donna Lynne. She’s a former healthcare executive–which arguably is not a good look. She’s also opposed the single-payer healthcare referendum (as did most Coloradans).

So maybe I’m being puritanical? Well, this is interesting (boldface mine):

Colorado Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a Democrat, announced Tuesday she is considering a run for the state’s highest office. Lynne, an outspoken critic of single-payer health care, was appointed lieutenant governor in 2016, coming straight into state government from her job as a vice president for health insurance conglomerate Kaiser Permanente. Lynne’s former employer has been raising premiums in the state, has faced regulatory punishments, and has led the fight to stop single-payer initiatives in Colorado and California. Just as Lynne was being confirmed for her state government job, her company successfully lobbied against a Democratic measure in Colorado that would have strengthened requirements for health insurers to cover annual breast cancer screenings….

While Lynne was running the company in 2009, Kaiser faced $367,000 in state fines. Colorado regulators’ report documented what it said were periodic failures by the company to “provide mandated coverage for maternity care”; “provide accurate information regarding coverage for emergency services”; and “correctly adjudicate claims resulting in erroneous denials” of claims.

In 2014, with Lynne still running the company, Colorado sanctioned Kaiser for periodic failures “to reflect correct and complete coverage for preventive health care services,” “to correctly reflect information concerning the extended length of a newborn hospital stay” and “to pay, deny or settle claims within the time periods required under Colorado insurance law.” Regulators said the latter “was a systemic issue that extended over a long period of time.” The company faced penalties of $78,000, but the total was reduced to $4,400 after Kaiser took corrective action…

In 2016, as Lynne’s lieutenant governor nomination was being reviewed by state lawmakers, her company opposed a House bill that would have required insurers to cover the specific breast cancer screening tests ordered by doctors, so that physicians could determine the proper test for individual patients. The lobbying was successful: The bill did not pass.

You don’t have to be an anti-corporate purity BERNIEBROCIALIST BOOGA! BOOGA! to realize a candidate that will have to defend short-changing possible breast cancer patients and mothers who have just given birth isn’t a smart move politically, especially in a year where rank-and-file Democrats have led the opposition to Republicans based on healthcare policy.

Yet the Coloradan Democratic establishment, including the current governor, seems to be lining up behind her.

I guess Madeline Albright’s aphorism “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other” doesn’t apply to former healthcare executives. Doesn’t seem very intersectional. Regardless, I’m pretty certain it would be really stupid politics. Though if your primary goal (pun intended) is to maintain power within the Democratic Party, at the expense of victory, it makes a certain sense.

And the congregation responds: This is yet another reason why we can’t have nice things.

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