Commentary: California Assembly plays blame game with Anthem Blue Cross

Ever eager to cast themselves as defenders of the little guy, politicians are in constant search of evildoers they can pummel, preferably in front of TV cameras.

For politicians in California, the bad guy du jour is Anthem Blue Cross, which proposed — then put on hold — a rate hike of up to 39 percent for holders of individual policies.

Anthem deserves scrutiny. Yet there is a right way and wrong way to go about investigating its actions. The Assembly on Tuesday demonstrated the wrong way.

Assembly Health Committee Chairman Dave Jones, a Sacramento Democrat running for insurance commissioner, spent the better part of an hour denouncing Anthem's rate increase and questioning Leslie Margolin, Anthem's president, and James Oatman, an Anthem vice president and an actuary. Margolin easily fended off questions by claiming ignorance, declining to answer, or promising to get back to lawmakers with answers.

Jones concluded his questioning by pointing to the millions of Californians who have lost jobs amid huge profits for Blue Cross.

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