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Deborah Cavallaro Clarifies L.A. Times Columnist Michael Hiltzik’s Hit Piece On Her

Friday, November 1, 2013

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HH: If you were listening last hour, I was talking with Jonathan Alter of Bloomberg, and he said Hugh, don’t worry, Obamacare is fine, didn’t you read Michael Hiltzik’s piece in the Los Angeles Times about Deborah Cavallaro, she didn’t know what a great deal she was getting, and I said I know Michael Hiltzik, I’m not sure he was fair. And of course, Generalissimo tracked down Deborah, and we round her. She is a realtor in Westchester, a suburb of Los Angeles. Deborah, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show, great to talk to one of my neighbors.

DC: Thank you, good to be with you.

HH: Now of course, we’re on in L.A. and across all of the United States. And only people in L.A., and very few of them, will have read Michael Hiltzik’s piece. But was he fair to you when you read his story?

DC: Well, in some ways he was, and in some ways, he wasn’t. I mean, the reality is that I, the plans that I looked at were from my insurance company. So I’ve seen plans from Anthem/Blue Cross and Blue Shield. And those plans that were “comparable” to mine in terms of the deductible were much more expensive. They ranged from $474 to $500 dollars. The point I’d like to make here is it’s, I never did get onto the exchange, but there’s a reason for that. The reason I did not get onto the exchange, and I did ask my insurance broker to check that out for me and let me know what was available there, and from what he was telling me, there was nothing better than what I’ve just described to you, or have been describing, that is available on the exchange. Now Michael Hiltzik seems to have found something that he thinks is better than what I have, but I don’t agree, and here’s why. First of all, the reason I didn’t get on the exchanges, I did not, my understanding is that in order to get the information and to review the plans, I would have to give up a lot of my personal, private medical and financial information. Well, that is the last thing that I want to have floating around out in cyberspace, is for the whole world to have access to my, all of my personal information.

HH: Now I don’t think you have to give your medical. I think you have to give your age, maybe your Social, and your address, but certainly enough to identify you. Would that give you alarm as well, Deborah?

DC: Yes, it would, particularly since I’ve already, over the course of the last several years, been contacted by various retailers and my bank, and a variety of other people, whereby they’ve actually provided me limited identity theft protection, because my information was compromised.

HH: So did you tell that to Michael Hiltzik?

DC: No, I didn’t.

HH: That’s too bad, because that is a, I think one of the reasons people aren’t shopping on the exchanges is that they really do have enormous security concerns that were confirmed yesterday at the hearing. But what about this deductible? He seems to think like you can’t do math.

DC: Right, right. Yeah, well, I cannot speak for the plans that he may have found on the exchange, because as I say, I have not seen them. So I don’t know what those deductibles are. However, it’s not, and this is the point I really want to make. It’s not just about the premiums and the deductibles. It’s about the plan itself. Now part of my big argument is that I like my doctors. I like my hospitals. I like the group that, the network that I’m in. And that’s another thing, and I don’t know about the exchanges, but according to my broker, my insurance broker, some of these plans, and some of the ones I looked at from my health care provider, from my insurance company, rather, are what we call EPO’s. So in my current plan, I can go outside of my network if I choose to. I would have to pay more, but I do have that choice. On some of these plans, at least through my insurance company, their EPO’s, you do not have the option to go outside of your network. And that brings…

HH: So you have a PPO right now, Deborah.

DC: Correct.

HH: And they want to put you into an EPO.

DC: Well, yes.

HH: So what I’m really trying to get at, though, I think your story is true and compelling, and I think it’s representative of 900,000 Californians who are getting terminated. Michael Hiltzik went out and told the world you don’t know what you’re talking about. Jonathan Alter of MSNBC and Bloomberg tells me didn’t you read the Hiltzik piece? Deborah doesn’t know what she’s talking about in so many words. Does that bother you? Do you think the media is trying to cover up for Obama?

DC: Well, it certainly bothers me. As for whether or not the media’s trying to cover up for Obama, that, I cannot answer. But it certainly bothers me that he’s kind of, you know, painting me as somebody that doesn’t know what she’s doing. And it’s true, like I say, it’s true I didn’t go to the exchange, but I just explained why. I did the next best thing, which is I went directly to my insurance company.

HH: But how long did you spend on the phone with Hiltzik?

DC: Maybe three minutes.

HH: You’re kidding.

DC: I think so. I mean, I didn’t time it, but I think it was maybe three, four minutes, maybe.

HH: So he opened you up to public ridicule on the basis of a three minute conversation?

DC: It appears so. But you know, I wanted to make other points about this. You know, the networks that, and even my insurance company said this, which is my, it’s in the letter that I got from the insurance company, and it says that your network may be changing, and therefore, or no, your network will be changing, and your doctors may not be in it, nor will your formulary, possibly, not be in it, because that’s changing, too. And my question to Mr. Hiltzik would be you know, we already know that the plans on Obamacare are going to be using shrinking networks of doctors. And the insurance companies are saying that as well.

HH: Yup.

DC: Well, let me ask you a question. How is my, how am I going to, is my medical service going to be improved if there are fewer doctors in the network whichever network I’m in?

HH: That’s a great question, Deborah. My question, though, and we’re running low on time, and I appreciate you taking the time, but my question is what is the media doing here? Why aren’t they simply reporting the facts as you understand it? Why are they not just simply reporting as opposed to telling the world that you’re, you know, I’m going to paraphrase. Michael Hiltzik did not call you a dumb blonde, but he might just as well have, don’t you think?

DC: Yeah, that was the feeling I got.

HH: I mean, and I knew, I know this guy. He’s a lefty, right? He’s a nice lefty, but he’s a lefty, and I don’t believe in using people as props to push forward your journalistic agenda, but the Los Angeles Times does. And I wonder if you’re mad about that.

DC: Well, I am a little bit annoyed about it, but honestly, you know, in all fairness to Michael Hiltzik, I mean, truthfully, I think he was doing a good reporting job, because he did ask the questions. And Michael, if you’re listening, I mean, I think you did ask the questions that nobody else asked. However, I would have liked to have told you what I’ve just been saying now to Hugh, which is there’s a reason why I didn’t go on that exchange, and I don’t believe that I am going to be served better by being in a shrinking or shrunken network.

HH: You’re very kind. You’re very kind. I’m going to have him on next hour, and I’ll make sure I tell him you’re very kind to him, because I don’t think he was kind to you at all. I think he ran you over, Deborah, but I’m glad you could join me to set the record straight on the Hugh Hewitt Show.

End of interview.

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