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California

Consumer Advocate to Head Health Group

May 10, 2000|INDRANEEL SUR | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Los Angeles consumer advocate Tuesday was named head of the Pacific Business Group on Health, a San Francisco nonprofit coalition that negotiates insurance plans for 400,000 workers at 30 major California companies.

Peter Lee, who has been executive director of the Center for Health Care Rights in Los Angeles for the last five years, will become chief executive of the Pacific Business Group on Health on June 1, the coalition said. The Pacific Business Group negotiates with health-care providers on nearly $400 million in annual premiums to insure workers at Chevron Corp., the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco and other member companies.

Lee, 41, said he was surprised when a headhunter called him about the position two months ago because he was known for his work representing consumers, not employers. But after a series of meetings with officers of the coalition, Lee said, he was convinced that the coalition's members are as devoted to upholding health-care standards as they are to managing medical cost inflation. "We needed to assure each other that our respective hearts, heads and souls were in this work," he said.

"When we buy health care, we buy it on behalf of our employees, who are members of health plans, and consumers," said Thomas J. Davies, a regional health-care manager for GTE Corp. and a member of the coalition's board of directors who helped select Lee. "You can't make fine-line distinctions in this day and age" between consumers and employers.

Lee was trained as a lawyer at USC and worked for an AIDS care group in Washington. At the Center for Health Care Rights, he helped establish a health information phone hotline.

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