Mr. Lara — focus on fire insurance crisis instead of touting a new health care for all program

When I received a statement from Ricardo Lara, the California Insurance Commissioner, regarding the launch of the first-ever Health for All Week across California, I recoiled and shook my head in disgust.

TerriLynn Bejcek, left, and Lassen County District 5 Supervisor Jason Ingram pose beside a billboard erected in December on Highway 395 near Janesville. Ingram said he will not be satisfied until homeowners actually get lower rates.

As more and still more insurance companies pull out of the state insurance market and Lassen County homeowners watch their insurance rates skyrocket, Lara is spending a week on the road supporting a new program that will provide “full-scope Medi-Cal coverage” to all Californians, “regardless of their immigration status.”

Lara and other leaders are in Oakland and Sacramento today celebrating the new program. They will be in Santa Rosa tomorrow, Central Los Angeles Saturday, San Diego and Riverside County Sunday and in Southeast Los Angeles Monday.

I guess reasonable people can and will question the wisdom and merit of such a program that promises health care to all state residents as a “fundamental human right,” but that discussion and debate are for another time and another place. There are bigger, more pressing concerns and much bigger fish to fry. Priorities, please.

With all respect, Mr. Lara, the people in Lassen County you represent are suffering — some paying as much as $8,000 per year for homeowner’s insurance through the state-sponsored so-called FAIR Plan due to the alleged fire risk up here where our forests have already burned. My insurance company finally renewed my policy earlier this year, but now that same coverage costs me three times as much. Some elderly residents have cashed in their retirement savings so they can pay off their mortgages and go without fire insurance, and others have decided to just go without the coverage all together. These unfortunate folks are forced to put everything at risk.

Ironically, the same insurance companies that won’t renew many homeowner policies or jack up the rates for renewal also participate in your FAIR plan where they sell us coverage many times more expensive than they previously charged us before they cancelled policies. You created a great and sweet deal for them, but a really bad deal for us ratepayers. Months ago, the governor gave you clear and precise direction to resolve the state’s homeowner insurance crisis, and you have obviously failed to do so.

So, Mr. Lara, I call on you now to get off this feel-good tour about a new health care program, pull up a chair at the desk in your Sacramento office and get to work to resolve this burning issue for us in Lassen County. I’m sure we’re not the only ones.

Again, with all respect, if you are unable or unwilling to fulfill your obligation to us in the North State as the state’s insurance commissioner, do the right thing and resign immediately, making room for someone else who can take this matter seriously, step forward and get the job done.

We need and deserve relief, and we again demand your attention. Please get out of the way if you can’t or won’t lend us your hand.