State Senator Leland Yee Responds to Health Care Critic

Details long list of bills supported to improve health care

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Leland Yee is fightin' mad over an accusation that he's a shill for the health insurance industry.

    A report on campaign donations to state senators from health care companies by MAPLight.org showed State Senator Leland Yee leading the pack in the last two election cycles.

    That led Beyond Chron, a San Francisco-based website, to suggest that Yee was in the pocket of health insurers and hospitals.

    Not so fast, says Yee. In a letter to the editor, Yee accused the author -- Tenderloin Housing Clinic Executive Director Randy Shaw -- of rushing to judgment:

    Regrettably, the author was in such a rush to play "gotcha politics," talk about "flip-flopping" and "blue-dog Democrats," that he never called or contacted my office to get the facts.

    Yee pointed out that a number of instances cited in the report that accused him of abstaining from committee votes in the hopes of weakening or sinking legislation, the senator was at the wedding of his daughter.

    As for the case of flip-flopping on another bill that would have given Californians a competitive "public option" for coverage which Yee first voted against and then voted for?

    Well, it turns out that the bill he voted against wasn't, initially, a health-care bill. It was a victim of "gut and amend," whereby a failed bill can essentially be completely rewritten and submitted after the deadline for proposing new legislation. (If that sounds completely crazy, welcome to Sacramento.)

    The more interesting story may be that Shaw clearly has little love for Yee. The TLHC receives millions in city funds to operate low-income housing, and Yee is rumored to be considering a run for mayor of San Francisco in 2011. So this argument may be less about state health care, and more about city politics.

    Jackson West says see, this is how you achieve "balance" in new media journalism -- you simply turn the pointed response to accusations into another post.