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Carly Fiorina's Senate campaign launch rehearses a threadbare script

November 05, 2009|MICHAEL HILTZIK

This is a "reform" the insurance industry has been after for years, because it would allow them to evade the more stringent regulations of some states by selling all their policies out of states with hands-off regulators.

For a clue to how this works, notice how credit card companies issue their cards from banks in places like South Dakota and Nevada, which have no usury limits, rather than, say, California, where the cap is 10%. But even Californians can't sign up for a card issued in California, so we're stuck with the South Dakota sky's-the-limit variety.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, November 11, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 2 inches; 98 words Type of Material: Correction
Carly Fiorina and HP stock: A Michael Hiltzik column in the Business section and a news article in Section A, both published Thursday, cited two different figures for the decline in Hewlett-Packard Co. shares during Carly Fiorina's tenure as its chief executive. The Hiltzik column said the stock fell 60%, and was based on the day of Fiorina's appointment and the last day she worked at the company. The news article cited a 49% drop, which included the day after her last work day -- when her resignation was announced -- as well as adjustments for stock dividends.

Cross-state health insurance wouldn't affect Fiorina, because as she acknowledged Wednesday, she gets her medical care through her husband's AT&T retirement plan.

Therefore it's my duty to explain to her what would happen if she were an average person who lost that AT&T coverage and had to replace it in an individual market where the insurers could sell it to her on their own terms, subject to the rules of the most lenient and consumer-unfriendly states: As a cancer survivor, she'd be uninsurable.

Fiorina doesn't really have to worry about that, because her $40-million walkaway package from Hewlett-Packard enables her to be her own health insurer, if need be.

But what about the rest of us? The common theme of ex-CEOs like Fiorina when they run for office is that their opponents are insensitive to the needs of business because they never had to meet a payroll. But entitled CEOs who haven't had to live a normal middle-class or working-class life for years are as much of a scourge.

Fiorina clearly plans to use her experience with cancer in the campaign ("After chemotherapy, Barbara Boxer just isn't really that scary anymore," she said Wednesday). But she didn't display much empathy for patients whose main problem might not be that their doctors don't communicate with one another (this is one of Fiorina's preoccupations), but that they don't have access to any doctors, because they can't get insurance.

So here's the tally thus far on Fiorina the candidate: Business celebrity with an equivocal record, cancer survivor with a secure employer-sponsored health plan, "problem-solving" candidate spouting ancient Republican nostrums. I can hardly contain my excitement.

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Michael Hiltzik's column appears Mondays and Thursdays. Reach him at michael.hiltzik@latimes.com, read him at www.latimes.com/ hiltzik, and follow @latimeshiltzik on Twitter.

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