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                        October 21, 2009
PLEASE TELL YOUR SENATORS
TO OPPOSE GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH INSURANCE
 

Background:  The Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) and Finance Committees have each passed separate health care reform bills out of their respective committees.  The action has now moved to the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), where he is leading negotiations between the HELP and Finance Committees as they merge the two bills into a single product that will be brought to the Senate floor in late October or early November.  There are stark differences between the two bills. For example, the Finance Committee bill does not include a robust government-run health insurance plan ("public option") or an employer mandate, while the HELP Committee bill includes a robust government-run health insurance plan as well as an onerous employer mandate. With these great distinctions and many others up for debate behind closed doors, it is imperative that both of your senators hear our concerns now.

Agent Concerns:  As the closed door negotiations ensue, a number of very important issues to independent insurance agents will be up for debate. First and foremost, there will be a pivotal debate on whether or not to include a government-run health insurance plan ("public option") that would unfairly compete with the private insurance marketplace, limit consumer choice and increase the taxpayer burden. There will also be a spirited negotiation over whether or not to include an employer mandate that would shrink small business output and force small businesses to cut jobs. As lawmakers try to find revenue to pay for the bill (est. $829-$900 billion), they may potentially look to new taxes on small businesses that would force thousands of small business to either cut jobs or close their doors.

Finally, while the Finance Committee bill explicitly states that agents and brokers are allowed the immediate right to enroll individuals and employers in any health insurance plan available in the state exchanges, the HELP Committee bill has no such provision. It is of utmost importance to conclude the call be reaffirming the important role of independent insurance and brokers in the sale and delivery of health insurance and ask your senators to work to ensure that independent agents and brokers are able to enroll individuals and small businesses in any plan offered in the state exchanges.

Action Needed: Please call both of your senators this week at the phone numbers listed below. Please also send this grassroots alert to your employees, friends, family, and clients and ask them to call to express their opposition to creating a government-run health insurance plan. After you make the calls, please email iiabagrassroots@iiaba.net to confirm participation and please put the name of your state in the title of the email.

     Senator Amy Klobuchar             (202) 224-3244
     Senator Al Franken                   (202) 224-5641

*Please note that your call will likely be answered by a staff assistant in the Senator's office. Please make your message brief and note the following:

1.       As an independent insurance agent and Minnesota resident, I strongly urge Senator (Klobuchar/Franken) to oppose the inclusion of a public option in the Senate bill.

2.       Any form of a public option would unfairly compete with the private insurance marketplace, limit consumer choice and increase the taxpayer burden.

3.       I also want to urge the Senator to oppose efforts to impose an unreasonable employer mandate and levy new taxes on small businesses. Health care reform should not be financed on the backs of small businesses that are currently struggling to make ends meet.

4.       Finally, I ask the Senator to work to ensure that independent insurance agents and brokers are able to enroll individuals and small businesses in the state exchanges.
5.       I appreciate the Senator's leadership on this issue. Thank you for listening to my thoughts.

*Please remember to email iiabagrassroots@iiaba.net after you make the calls and please put the name of your state in the title of the email.

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