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               May 19, 2009

National Health Insurance Reform

A 20 member delegation of agents throughout Minnesota just returned from a sobering trip to Washington , DC , for IIABA's National Legislative Conference.  During the visits to Capitol Hill calling on all the Minnesota Congressional Delegation, we heard loud and clear that our industry is in the crosshairs of potential government interference like never before, most notably with regards to the sale and delivery of health insurance.   
The Obama Administration is actively working with Congress and interested parties to craft a major health care reform proposal.  While still being developed, this proposal could potentially eliminate or severely curtail the agent/broker role in health insurance sales.  The entire debate is on a fast track with draft legislation expected to be circulated in late May, consideration and votes by Senate committees of jurisdiction in June and floor consideration as early as July.  The House is expected to follow suit with consideration of legislation in the late summer or early fall.  
Any government effort to replace or supplant the private industry in the sale and delivery of health insurance will have disastrous effects on independent agents and the consumers you serve.  A recent survey of our national membership indicated that 62% of our agencies sell health insurance, and health insurance products account for more than 14% of our agencies' revenues. 
To put in perspective the danger we face, consider these recent comments by Nancy-Ann DeParle, Counselor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform: 
"A public plan is something that's sponsored by the government, and therefore has very low or almost nonexistent administrative costs, compared to others.  It doesn't have the need to have brokers out selling; it wouldn't have the need to have a lot of costs and profits, the way private plans would. So it has that advantage." 
To counter the efforts that threaten our livelihood, IIABA has assembled a health care reform kit (documents attached and listed below) to educate you on the issue and help you advocate in your community.   
Please read these documents carefully and immediately begin educating your colleagues, clients and business associates. 
Over the next 3-4 months, expect to receive a number of grassroots emails from IIABA on this subject.  Please pay attention to these grassroots requests and respond to them as soon as you receive them.  It is vital that we educate our Members of Congress on the role we play in health care delivery and the value we bring to consumers.  While recognizing health care reform is a necessity for the country, protecting the private delivery, specifically protecting the agent role in the sale and delivery of health insurance, is a top priority for the Big "I."  If we don't stop this effort to usurp the role of independent agents, what will the federal government go after next (e.g. workers comp.)?
If you have any questions please email me at

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Email Dominic Sposeto
MN Dept of Commerce

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