Friday, May 30, 2008

Insurance lobby blocks reform in Harrisburg?

Insurance is a complicated business. There have been efforts in recent years to reform Pennsylvania insurance practices, expecially in the area of health insurance, but legislation has stalled in both the House and Senate. One of the reasons the legislation has not been passed is the powerful insurance lobby that rules over the Pennsylvania Legislature. (Did you know that Gov. Rendell's last insurance secretary left for a job in the insurance industry?)

The letter below was published in The Mercury. It comes from a man who has operated an insurance business in the Pottstown area for more than 30 years. He's not a paid lobbyist for the insurance industry, but he certainly knows the industry. Take a look at the comments by Ron Black and make sure your legislator knows that he or she should be looking out for the consumer and not the insurance lobby.

Insurance lobby is powerful

I am writing in response to the May 8 letter "NFIB Supports Insurance Reform." This was in regard to my letter "House gets insurance bill right." It starts out by saying my article mischaraterized the NFIB and fails to address the negative, unintended consequences that may result if House Bill 2005 is passed.

The National Federation of Independent Business sells health insurance for the for-profits companies and Kevin Shivers is a paid lobbyist. I am not a paid lobbyist and I do not get paid to write these letters. Kevin Shivers should be ashamed to even suggest the NFIB supports SB 865 but then you must look at its key sponsor, Sen. Don White, chair of the Senate and Banking Committee. But that's not all. A lobbyist by the name of Sam Marshall, president of The Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, was the main writer of a House Bill sponsored by Rep. Nick Micozzie. It also happens that he was the chairman of the House Insurance Committee. Senate Bill 865 is a full clone of Rep. Micozzie's bill.

I might add that Sen. John Rafferty was a co-sponsor of SB 865 but after I spoke with him, he withdrew his support. SB 865 would allow legalized discrimination and is anti small business. It provides no regulation of the for-profits which the NFIB supports. They want to eliminate state regulation and turn all controls over to the federal government. The NFIB mentions nothing about Governor Rendell's Mathematica Report "making small group insurance more affordable." Every small business owner should ask his or her state senator or house member for a copy. Read it and you decide for yourself if the NFIB really represents you in suggesting the passage of SB865.

The Mathematica Report clearly shows that other states like Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey and New York have proven it works. House Bill 2005 has passed with bi-partisan support, eliminates discrimination, and regulates all health insurance companies. Yes Kevin, we deserve more so let's eliminate legal discrimination so that "Solutions Start Here."

I don't think I mischaracterized the NFIB because they support issues that are self-serving. SB 865 is a lobbyist supported bill, whereas HB 2005 is a bi-partisan supported bill and supported by the governor's own Mathematica Report. As I said before, this may be our last chance (HB 2005) to see the start of real meaningful health insurance reform.


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