Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A victory against the insurance lobby

Ron Black has run a successful insurance business in Montgomery County for decades. He has also worked hard to make sure the Pennsylvania Legislature looks out for consumers instead of big insurance companies. That involves dozens of trips to Harrisburg, lots of letters to newspapers and lawmakers and personal lobbying to make sure consumers are not forgotten.

The one issue that is near and dear to Ron's heart involves health insurance coverage. Ron has been working to level the playing field in Pennsylvania, where for-profit insurance companies are not regulated by the state.

The letter below was published in The Mercury. Ron thanks members of the House for passing a bill that finally gives consumers access to affordable health insurance. The bill must now be passed by the Senate and signed into law by Gov. Rendell.

If you're tired of paying high health insurance premiums or if you've lost your coverage, get behind House Bill 2005.

Here is Ron Black's letter:
House gets it right on health insurance

For the past five years I have been involved with trying to get legislation passed that would benefit the small business owner's health insurance issues. The big one was the medical underwriting (legal discrimination) that companies used to control rates, even refuse to write unhealthy groups.

With little fanfare House Bill 2005 passed with bipartisan support and now has gone to the Senate for consideration.

Small business owners must contact their state senator and ask him to support this legislation with no amendments attached that would change anything in the House version.

I thank the House members who voted for this legislation because you have given small business owners some hope. However we must get the Senate to pass this bill and now. Even the governor couldn't refuse to sign it because he paid for a health care report, called The Mathematica Report, and it recommended using community rating which doesn't allow medical underwriting. It's used in other states with great success.

We are the second oldest state by population and many of you have seen your rates increase over 130 percent in the past five years. Even individuals will be helped by this legislation. But you can't sit back and do nothing; thank your House member if he or she voted in favor of this legislation and if they didn't, ask why.

Call your senator, call the governor's office, write letters and most important don't give up. You can bet the NFIB (which claims to represent small business) and The Insurance Federation of Pa. (they represent for-profit insurance companies) will be fighting even harder, in the Senate, to make sure this bill dies for lack of interest.

We don't have the money to fight many of the special interest groups but we do vote and that may be the only threat we have to use. Remember that the Insurance Federation of Pa. which is headed by Sam Marshall represents the for-profit insurance companies. He is paid to stop just this type of legislation and he will use his influence and money to do just that. But you have the vote. This may be our last chance to see the start of real meaningful health insurance reform. Don’t let it slip away.


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