DC Appleseed: Fighting For D.C. Voting Rights and Against CareFirst
Yesterday was an important day in two of DC Appleseed's longstanding battles - our fight to bring voting rights to D.C. residents, and our fight to require CareFirst to spend its millions of dollars in excessive surplus to address the overwhelming health needs here in the District in the wake of the pandemic.
D.C. Voting Rights
On the voting rights fight, yesterday our pro bono partners at Harris Wiltshire & Grannis filed a brief in support of our case now before the federal court here in the District. The case is on behalf of the residents of D.C. - none of whom have voting representation in Congress.
The specific issue now before the Court is whether it is constitutional that people who move from a state to another country still get to vote in the state they came from, but people who move from a state to the District do not. Because a large percentage of District residents came from another state, our brief says it is unconstitutional that they get no vote.
If the Court agrees with us, we will have an opportunity to organize all District voters who came from another state and use their leverage to vote against members of Congress in other states who do not support the District's quest for full voting representation and statehood.
CareFirst's Nonprofit Obligations
CareFirst is by far the largest health insurance company in this region. Under District law, CareFirst's D.C. affiliate has an obligation as a nonprofit company to spend the maximum feasible amount of its surplus on community health needs. The company has never met this obligation, and that is so even though DC Appleseed has twice successfully gone to court to enforce the obligation.
Under a ruling DC Appleseed obtained from the D.C. Court of Appeals last August, the company now must spend a minimum of $51 million on D.C. health needs, and may owe more than $300 million that must be spent to address those needs. Because it is the duty of D.C.'s Insurance Commissioner to enforce this obligation, we filed an emergency motion with the Commissioner in early May asking her to expedite CareFirst's compliance with the law. CareFirst opposed this motion, arguing that the Commissioner should delay any action until the pandemic emergency is over.
Yesterday, through our pro bono lawyers at
Covington & Burling
filed a reply
to CareFirst making clear that it is precisely because of the great health needs faced by District residents due to the pandemic that the Commissioner should act as soon as possible to hold CareFirst accountable to its obligations. We expect and hope the Commissioner will act soon on our emergency motion. It is critical to the health needs of District residents that she do so.