Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Healthcare Foundation Follow Up - money for the Left

Healthcare Foundation Follow Up - millions of dollars for liberal causes that don't improve anyone's health

What a hornet’s nest I’ve stirred up!

You may recall the email I sent out on December 8 outlining the hearing I participated in on December 7 about the tax status of nonprofit, tax-exempt hospital groups such as Kaiser Permanente and how these nonprofit hospitals are under attack by both unions and liberal special interests.

I followed up that email with an article I wrote for Human Events outlining California’s three nonprofit healthcare foundations which together have a net worth of $5.5 billion and give about $250 million a year in grants, much of which goes to liberal groups.

Well, since then, I’ve gotten a large amount of encouraging support from the nonprofit healthcare community telling me that I said what they wished they could have said, but are afraid to do so.

I also got an interesting letter from the President and CEO of one of the billion dollar foundations, Mr. Gary Yates, who said he was trying “to correct factual errors and misperceptions” in my Human Events piece. Well, I’ll admit to making one, non-material error: I wrote that The California Wellness Foundation was formed by Blue Cross going from nonprofit to for-profit status – it was in fact formed from the for-profit conversion of Health Net. Whatever. The remainder of Mr. Yates’ letter does nothing to counter my initial claims about the spectacular and dangerous liberal political bias of these hugely endowed foundations.

I wrote my reply to Mr. Yates today. I’ve posted the entire reply on my website (see: http://www.chuckdevore.com/pages/909913/index.htm). In the meantime, you may find some of the additional research Mr. Yates’ letter prompted my office to do very interesting. It shows beyond any doubt that The California Wellness Foundation’s tax-exempt status is being abused in favor of funding an ultra-liberal social agenda.

From my reply to Mr. Yates, here is a small sampling of the tax-free grants to liberal causes in which this billion dollar juggernaut indulges, most of which have precious little to do with assisting low income people in obtaining health care (curiously, their original mandate):

-California Budget Project, a de facto partisan organization that always argues for a radical liberal agenda, and which the San Francisco Chronicle recently called a “liberal Sacramento policy group” – $100,000, 7/25/03

-California Council of Churches, a reflexively leftist organization that espouses only liberal causes – $100,000 4/25/2003

-California Family Health Council, Inc. – Its own web site says, “The California Family Health Council (CFHC) is a nonprofit organization working to improve the health of California families by increasing access to family planning, improving reproductive health care and ensuring access to health services.” This group supported SB 1301, which made abortion a “fundamental” right in California and opposed Prop. 73 – $75,000, 1/24/2003; $200,000, 1/24/2003; $200,000, 1/24/2003; $500,000, 10/24/2003

-California League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, liberal environmentalist group – $130,000, 4/25/2003

-California Planned Parenthood Education Fund, Inc., California’s largest abortion provider – $150,000, 7/25/2003

-California Women’s Law Center - From their web site: “Women’s Access to Health Care is Compromised by Religious Health Systems - Religious health systems are the fastest growing non-profit healthcare providers in the United States. In California, Catholic Healthcare West is the largest healthcare system with 42 hospitals. When religious systems purchase secular hospitals, low-income women, men and adolescents lose access to a whole range of medically necessary reproductive health services.” Let’s leave aside whether abortion and birth control are “medically necessary.” Men? Since when are vasectomies and IVF “medically necessary?” The grant was for “core operating support to provide policy advocacy and legal services to promote women’s health issues in California,” presumably abortion – $120,000, 1/24/2003

-Camp Fire Girls program “Speak Out!,” which promotes contraception as the best means of pregnancy prevention, and mocks abstinence as ineffectual and a sop to advocates of traditional morality, when sound sociological research (not to mention science and common sense) demonstrate otherwise – $75,000, 1/24/2003

-Center for Environmental Health – $100,000, 7/25/2003

-Center for Gender Equality (headed by Faye Wattleton, former president of Planned Parenthood), to “support the development of an interactive web site to provide the media, the public, and policymakers with information on women’s issues, including health,” presumably abortion – $10,000, 8/19/2003

-Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, which describes itself as “a non-profit, non-partisan consumer watchdog group. We fight corrupt corporations and crooked politicians every day,” and is run by the ultra-liberal partisan Jamie Court – $5,000, 3/25/2003

-Health Access Foundation, which supports Health Access California, led by left-wing partisan Anthony Wright who was very active in the Prop. 78 and 79 campaigns and has been quoted many times attacking legislative Republicans – $100,000, 7/25/2003

-International Planned Parenthood Foundation, Western Hemisphere Group, Inc. – $5,000, 11/25/2003

-Persephone Productions, named after the Greek goddess of the underworld whose name means “destroyer of light,” run by the radical leftist Bonnie Erbe, a keen supporter of abortion and the homosexual rights agenda, “to develop and disseminate information to California policy makers and opinion leaders about what works to reduce teen pregnancy” – Three $75,000 donations, 1/24/2003, 2/6/2003, and 2/7/2003

-Planned Parenthood, San Diego & Riverside Counties – $130,000, 7/25/2002

-Planned Parenthood, Los Angeles – $75,000, 1/24/2003

-Planned Parenthood, Mar Monte – $75,000, 1/24/2003

-Population Services International “to advocate for access to emergency contraception for teens,” emergency contraception is almost always a euphemism for some sort of abortifacient – $75,000, 1/24/2003

-Public Health Institute, which promotes the “rights, respect, and responsibility” approach to healthy adolescent sexuality” (i.e., kids have the ability to make these important decisions; yes, listen to the parents, but ultimately, it’s the minor child’s choice) – $225,000, in Q1 and Q4 2003

-Trust for Conservation Innovation “To link together funders working on environment, health, social justice, science marine ecosystems and rural economies around a cross-sector issue.” That issue is water, and my guess is that the concern here has little to do with “clean water,” but rather restricting the ability of agriculture to have access to what it needs for commercial irrigation, a rather curious donation from a health non-profit – Two donations of $15,000, 1/9/2003

I ended my letter to Mr. Yates with the following:

I accept that TCWF provides some modest funding to a few good – even wonderful – organizations that work assiduously to expand access to cost-effective, affordable, and needed healthcare for indigent Californians. This is good and necessary work, and not just because it reduces the perceived need for taxpayer funded action.

However, mixed in is an alarmingly heavy emphasis on grants supporting a leftist political agenda. In conferring with individuals who have attended meetings where you and your colleagues have discussed this agenda, I am confident asserting your creative interpretation of TCWF’s founding mission has caused you to stray far into the political arena.

It is my intent to closely monitor your foundation and others in California to discover acts that may constitute a violation of your non-profit status.

Again, thank you for your reply. It prompted me to conduct more research, solidifying my initial perceptions.

To all of you who responded to me with information about The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation and the California HealthCare Foundation, thank you. We need to continue to keep an eye on these groups lest they think no one is watching as they use their wealth and nonprofit status to advance a very liberal agenda.

All the best,

Chuck DeVore
State Assemblyman, 70th District