CW's friend Wendell Potter, a flat-out expert on how health insurance companies behave and how their lobby infiltrates government, has a report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners meeting in Orlando, Fla. Most interesting numbers: there are 28 consumer advocates, and more than a thousand health insurance and allied industry lobbyists.
CW's friend Wendell Potter, a flat-out expert on how insurance companies behave and how their lobby infiltrates government, has a report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners meeting in Orlando, Fla. in his Huffington Post column. He sees United Health Group's report of a big profit jump in the third quarter as a bonus for consumers, if it gives insurance commissioners the spine to resist the industry lobbyists who are demanding concessions on health reform regulations.
The insurance companies are at the meeting in force. They're seeking to cripple the first solid consumer benefits of the health reform law, a requirement that insurance companies pay 80% to 85% of health insurance premiums for actual health care, even if it meens less profit or more rational executive salaries.
Read Wendell's whole column to find out how insurance companies use fear tactics to get their way. But here's his description of the imbalance that makes it so hard for consumers to win.
I am one of 28 people selected by the NAIC to represent the interests of consumers. The insurance industry and other special interests are represented here by more than a thousand lobbyists.
I know that Wendell and his fellow advocates are the conscience of the insurance commissioners, and expert at making their case. But insurance commissioners are largely appointed by governors, too often after consultations with the insurance industry. Commissioners often go into, or back to, the insurance industry to make some bucks after their term in the state job. They don't admit to being directly influenced by the industry, and surely some are not. But it makes the consumers' side the underdog.
So if the NAIC resists a thousand lobbyists to sends the current–and already weak–proposed regulations to the White House, it will be a mini-victory. The lobbyists won't quit, of course. They'll just go back to Washington and get to work on the White House. But as Wendell says, if insurance companies keep raking in big profits and cutting care, the lobbyists' argument will be a tad harder to make.