Anti IM17/Pro-House Bill 1067 e-mail blasts hitting members of the legislature. Not a scam, but don’t trip over the astroturf.

Is Superbowl weekend coming up? Because it looks like someone is getting plenty of astroturf ready.

Well, not so much in Santa Clara, California where the game is being played. I’m referring to what appears to be playing out in Pierre over House Bill 1067.

What started this is that I received an e-mail from a legislator last night who said he and many others had been getting a string of e-mails all day from people howling about 2014’s IM17, and how they needed to get right on fixing it with House Bill 1067.

Here is the e-mail I received from a legislator

Pat, House members have started to receive email today regarding HB 1067.  I could be wrong, but this smells of a Sanford scam to me.  I’ve attached the email received so far.  You can make up your own mind if it smells or not.  It would be interesting to learn if the addresses and email are real. Anyway, the email is attached for you.  We’ve been getting one periodically since this am.

And here are the e-mails he was asking about and provided to me (editing note – I’ve redacted last names, e-mail or any physical addresses that were sent along in these e-mails)

Dear Legislators,

You have the opportunity to strengthen the mandate and support the will of the people by supporting HB1067, while preserving the ability of South Dakotans to purchase health benefit plans tailored to their needs and budget.  The current statutory language did not go far enough in mandating choice as to a patient’s provider.  It needs to be changed to make clear that health insurance companies need to offer a broad network plan – a fact made plain by the fact that the matter is currently in litigation.  HB 1067 fixes that by mandating that health insurance companies offer a broad network plan which includes ALL providers in the health insurer’s panel.  The beauty of HB 1067 is that it not only offers choice as to provider BUT ALSO offers choice as to health benefit plan.  Without HB 1067, South Dakotans could be put in a position of ONLY being able to purchase a broad network plan, which may not be what they want, need or can afford.  HB 1067 is a common sense bill that offers voters the choice as to provider they were promised with IM 17 and keeps health insurance options open and affordable.  It is the best of all possible worlds, and I fully expect you to support this common sense bill.  Thank you for your consideration.

Regards,
Blayne H.

____

I am writing because I just learned the truth about what happened with IM 17 and I am shocked.  I am asking you to protect my choices of insurance by supporting HB 1067.  We South Dakotans expect our legislators to guard against this type of self- dealing activity even when the self- dealers are physicians as is the case with IM 17.  Please tell me you will do the right thing on this important issue.

Dana C.

____

To whom it may concern:

I have never written a legislator before but when I learned that I was taken advantage of with a misleading marketing campaign promising choice I was compelled to contact you. If you don’t protect us against those types of activities in South Dakota, who will?!?! Please support House Bill 1067 and give us BACK the choice to make our OWN decisions of health plans and not let a group of doctors who want to make money have total disregard for what I can and cannot afford!!!!

Katrina W

____

Dear Elected Official,

I outraged after hear the truth about what happened with IM 17. I am asking you to protect my choices of insurance by supporting HB 1067.  We expect our legislators to guard against this type legislation and do what is best of the people and not to be miss led by miss information by physicians.

Please tell me you will do the right thing on this important issue.

Concerned South Dakotan
Beth P.

____

Dear Legislators:

In my past 40 years as a South Dakota voter I have never gone public with my opinions other than at the polls with my X in the box for my vote. I am writing to all of you today about the Initiated Measure 17 vote in 2013 that was a farce to the people of SD. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue, this is a real people of SD issue. I am tired of hearing what is going to be good for me from my Representatives and then to find out you have lied to us in being blindsided. I have paid more attention this go-round and have looked at the You Tube videos of Black (Blake) Curd and am so disappointed in his untruths. I didn’t get a choice, where is my promise from all you who said this would get me a voice and a choice in my healthcare. Nothing changed except if I change insurance companies. I am really disappointed in the Legislators of SD. Look at the mess on TV for the Presidential campaigns, I always could say well that is Washington and I am from SD. In SD we don’t do crap like that, I am beginning to think SD has its very own Donald Trump in DR. CURD. PLEASE, please correct this mistake and vote for House Bill 1067 and give me back the choice to make my decisions of insurance plans and not let a group of physicians who want to totally disregard what is so important to me, the VOTER.

Terry & Chris H..

____

I don’t, typically, write legislators but feel the need to do so this year to ask you to support House Bill 1067 – “An Act to Promote Quality, Competition, and Freedom of Choice in the Health Insurance Marketplace”.

I feel voters were tricked by the people who campaigned for IM17 stating that by voting “yes” to IM17, would allow me to choose my own doctor without additional cost to me.  Had I known IM17 would force me to purchase a broad network plan and pay more, I would have fought this Initiative more aggressively.  As I look back, I now understand why the doctors who own their clinics paid $2 million dollars to pass this Initiative.

I can’t afford an increase in health insurance costs and don’t need or want to see a special doctor at one of their expensive clinics.  The only reason IM17 passed was because they lied and made people think it was about choice.

IM17 was a dirty campaign and now a dirty law.  It was funded by self-interested doctors and politicians looking to line their pockets while making South Dakotans think it was a good and fair law.

Please vote for HB1067.  As a constituent, I understood I would have a choice in my health care provider but that’s clearly not what IM17 provided.  Instead, a vaguely worded law was put into place that requires me to be part of a broad network insurance plan.  How is that “patient choice”.

Thank you,

Lynn J.

The legislator was not sure why and how they were getting a pile of e-mail in this manner, and I didn’t think it was a scam, as opposed to some sort of automated constituent communication program. But Its kind of tough to judge without knowing whether these were real people or not.

Just out of curiosity, I looked a few of them up on Linked-in.  And that’s where a really interesting pattern emerged.

… HB 1067 is a common sense bill that offers voters the choice as to provider they were promised with IM 17 and keeps health insurance options open and affordable.  It is the best of all possible worlds, and I fully expect you to support this common sense bill.  Thank you for your consideration.

Regards,
Blayne H….

BlayneH

Well, that’s funny. In the e-mail she wasn’t identified as Corporate Counsel at Sanford Health.

And we have the next e-mail….  My emphasis, btw.

I am writing because I just learned the truth about what happened with IM 17 and I am shocked.  I am asking you to protect my choices of insurance by supporting HB 1067.  We South Dakotans expect our legislators to guard against this type of self- dealing activity even when the self- dealers are physicians as is the case with IM 17.  Please tell me you will do the right thing on this important issue.

Dana C….

DanaC

Darn those self-dealing self-dealers…. Wait a minute… Is that a Sanford employee demanding “Legislators to guard against this type of self-dealing ” as she asks for passage of a measure being promoted largely by her employer? Without identifying herself as such, of course.

I am beginning to think SD has its very own Donald Trump in DR. CURD. PLEASE, please correct this mistake and vote for House Bill 1067 and give me back the choice to make my decisions of insurance plans and not let a group of physicians who want to totally disregard what is so important to me, the VOTER.

Terry & Chris H….

CHrisH

I’m really getting the sense of a pattern here.

I outraged after hear the truth about what happened with IM 17. I am asking you to protect my choices of insurance by supporting HB 1067.  We expect our legislators to guard against this type legislation and do what is best of the people and not to be miss led by miss information by physicians.

Please tell me you will do the right thing on this important issue.

Concerned South Dakotan
Beth P….

bethP

I’m assuming that none of the doctors she works with would miss led anyone. And here’s one of my favorite excerpts… (my emphasis again)

IM17 was a dirty campaign and now a dirty law. It was funded by self-interested doctors and politicians looking to line their pockets while making South Dakotans think it was a good and fair law.

Please vote for HB1067. As a constituent, I understood I would have a choice in my health care provider but that’s clearly not what IM17 provided. Instead, a vaguely worded law was put into place that requires me to be part of a broad network insurance plan. How is that “patient choice”.

Thank you,
Lynn J…

LynnJ

So, we’re talking about concerns over the self-interested here, at the same time someone is participating in blast e-mailing legislators… while not exactly being candid about at least a facet of their interest.

And then here the kicker – there’s the concern over the writer of the letter being required to “be part of a broad network insurance plan. How is that “patient choice”.”  Is she kidding?

To my knowledge, the vast majority of these people, as employees of Sanford Health I’d wager there’s a good chance they’re not actually on a plan regulated by the state, but on a self-funded plan that’s only barely regulated (if at all) by the federal government under the Federal ERISA act.  I don’t know that they would be governed by IM17.

So what are are these Sanford employees complaining about!?! 

I’d pass on to my friends in the South Dakota Legislature who are concerned about getting hit with all of these e-mails out of the Sioux Falls area – I am quite convinced that they are not a scam, and are all absolutely from real people.

But, at the same time, mind your step. You wouldn’t want to trip over the astroturf.

11 thoughts on “Anti IM17/Pro-House Bill 1067 e-mail blasts hitting members of the legislature. Not a scam, but don’t trip over the astroturf.

  1. Patient

    Wow, Sanford is way out of line with this legislation and they are deceiving legislators. The people have spoken- show the voters the respect they deserve.

  2. Platonic

    Wait a minute, don’t we have lobbying laws that prohibit this sort of behavior?

    I’m sure Sanford has registered lobbyists in Pierre already, but if they are encouraging employees to attempt to influence legislation while on the clock or from work networks or to further the interests of their employer, wouldn’t each of the above need to register as lobbyists per SDCL s. 2-12-1?

  3. Anon

    Pat, aren’t Sanford and the others that are Anti-IM17 your new advertisers on the right side? The ones offering South Dakotans a “real choice”

  4. Anonymous

    These e-mails feign ignorance “… just learned the truth… ” ” … shocked to find out … ” and are, therefore outright deceptions. can’t Sanford pass legislation without having their employees lie for them?

  5. Springer

    Would someone explain to me what this new bill is correcting? I read the bill but fail to see the reason for it. I don’t think I’m the only one that is confused.

    1. Anonymous

      Essentially Sanford does not like that the Patient Choice bill gave patients a choice. They want to be able to keep all their insurance claim payments coming back to them by forcing anyone who has Sanford Health Plans to use only Sanford employed providers, i.e. Sanford Clinics. Right now you can go to any provider that is listed in the Sanford Health Plan network and they do not have to be employed by Sanford. If this bill passes it wipes out any choice we had voted for last year. Also if this bill passes, Avera will follow suit and the independent, small clinics will struggle to survive.

  6. Anonymous

    Psst
    The first and last thing to tell your astroturfers when astroturfing is; “Do not send the message from your work computer.”

  7. Anonymous

    Patient Choice makes doctors meet hospital terms. How can that increase costs? Whatever happened to Sanford’s culture? Where’s the caring? This organization has lost its way.

  8. Pingback: A war of wills getting set to take place tomorrow; House Bill 1067 is coming up in committee. – South Dakota War College