Oh yes. The Henry Waxman we know and love.

henry_waxman_official_photo_portrait_color.thumbnail.jpgRemember back in the good old days, when Henry Waxman was Chair of Oversight? Something would piss him off and–like clockwork, approximately 4 hours into the next business day–he’d send out some letters that would make corporate CEOs quiver and bitch. We haven’t gotten to see that Henry Waxman so much now that he chairs Commerce.

However, I think Waxman is getting a little tired with Rahm’s attempts to sideline the work of the Commerce Committee.

Because on Monday he sent out a demand for information on health insurance company’s exorbitant costs–returnable in time for the health care debate in Congress in September.

He’s asking for the following by September 4:

  • A table listing the total compensation for every employee making more than $500,000 a year
  • A table listing board member compensation
  • A table listing off-site conferences and retreats
  • A table listing the company’s total revenue and net income

And the following by September 14:

  • Communication with the board on compensation packages
  • Tables listing premium revenue, claims payments, and sales expenses

And here’s the list of insurance companies mean old Henry is picking on. In case you wondering, Mrs. Bayh’s company, Wellpoint, is on that list. I would imagine that after these details become public–just as the debate between the House and Senate picks up–Evan Bayh might think a little differently about how he represents the interests of–as Mrs. Greenspan calls them–the conservative Democrats in Indiana. Likewise, once Waxman has the details of the retreats that some of those obstructing reform have attended, it may change their commitment to obstruction pretty quickly.

It appears that one of the recipient companies (I’m trying to figure out what PPM would be the abbreviation for) went whining to Mike Allen, complaining,

This is nothing more than a taxpayer-funded fishing expedition designed to silence health plans.

But jeebus! Isn’t this information precisely the kind of information we ought to have in hand before we decide how to reform health care?

Henry? Nice to see you back in old form.

39 replies
  1. NelsonAlgren says:

    I think Ms. Greenspan is forgetting something. Cranky McSame didn’t win Indiana last year!! That’s right. Indiana voted for that Commie, pinko, Islamist, fascist-socialist black guy!! So Indiana isn’t as Conservative as Ms. Greenspan would like to think. Besides, Evan’s dad used to be Senator and he was as much a DFH as Evan is a corporate whore, so Indiana does have some redeeming qualities.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      Yeah. If you ignore the sternly worded letter, you get invited to appear before the committee for a strongly-worded talking to.

      If I were an insurance company, I’d politely state that the requested information is confidential, beyond what is in our SEC filings. And I’d enclose copies of said filings for the committees convienence. Waxman doesn’t have the votes to change the law and us being politely rude to Waxman isn’t going to cost me any votes I haven’t already lost.

      I like Waxman, but I think he’s tilting at windmills again.

      Boxturtle (The temptation to respond with a form letter and a copy of the stock prospectus would be strong)

    • whyknot says:

      For publicly traded companies, much of this info is already out there, Chairman Waxman has requested it in table format for his convenience and, of course, to print it up in the paper that way. Listed companies will usually not fight or ignore a request from Congress, the shareholders frown on asking for that kind of trouble. Private companies can probably blow it off for a while, but every company has at least one disgruntled employee that will sneak the info out anyway. This is an excellent fight-back move to remind this industry who has the whip hand.

  2. Mary says:

    When it comes to Bayh, don’t ignore the influence of Eli Lily and Mead Johnson/Bristol Myers on his Indiana politics.

    It would be nice if Waxman was able to get some turndown info, on pre-existing conditions or delays in coverage bc of pre-existing coverage to address that “rationing” of healthcare meme, and if he got not just total revenue/net income but overhead margins – so they could be compared with the 4% medicare overhead margin. And a lovely bit of information would be a table with summaries of the lobbyist fees paid out from 2008 primaries (where healthcare reform was taking stage through now) through Aug.

    But whatever he gets will be worthwhile.

  3. WilliamOckham says:

    I’m trying to figure out what PPM would be the abbreviation for

    Huh? I didn’t see PPM used anywhere. Did I miss something?

    • emptywheel says:

      Oh, sorry, I forgot I linked to teh publicly available letter rather than the one that Politico edited to remove any identifying markers. Maybe you can figure out which insurance company is whining to Mike Allen?

  4. Rayne says:

    PPM could mean more than one thing. Could refer to “public-private mix” of health care providers, or “private placement memorandum,” which refers to business investment. Context is everything. (Unfortunately my copy of Adobe is flaking out, can’t read the rest of the content at the link.)

  5. Jkat says:

    marcy ..there’s a big insurance group for the gas-passers that’s PPM .. it’s either “physician’s preferred medical” or “preferred physician’s medical” .. but it’s a primary provider of malpractice insurance ..

  6. DieselDave09 says:

    Mr. Waxman,

    I am sorry but we cannot and will not supply the requested information. Sue us if you dare.

    Your friends,
    Insurance Alley

  7. Jkat says:

    this whole medical mess is .. imo.. just another symptom of the wild-wild-west business environment brought on by a lack of gub’mint regulation .. it’s time to rein in the runaway wagons ..

  8. JasperJohns says:

    Rush Holt living in pharma country (NJ) is deserving of many kudos. A positive among the corrupted masses. imho

  9. darclay says:

    I would think that the insurance companies would, from a PR standpoint feel they had to respond. I personally would assume that there were shady deals going down.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      I think any factual response would show the insurance companies in question in an even worse light. I’d much rather shut up and have people suspect something, because whatever they suspect probably isn’t as bad is reality.

      Let’s face it, except for the politicians they support and their employees, health care insurance companies are already detested. They’ve nothing to lose, Waxman doesn’t currently have the votes to do anything more than boviate.

      Boxturtle (The insurance companies politicians seem honest…they’re staying bought!)

  10. Mary says:

    On Bayh – e.g., his COS while he was gov was just made a Sr VP of E.L


    In addition to Wellpoint, Susan Bayh used to be counsel for E.L.

    Bayh himself served on the board of Eli Lily in the 90s, after his stint as Gov and before his stint as Senator.

    e.g., http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-19123184.html

    “Evan Bayh has distinguished himself as an insightful leader, one who placed priorities on sound fiscal management and economic growth during his two terms as Indiana’s governor,” said Randall L. Tobias, Lilly chairman and chief executive officer.

    Hmm- Randall Tobias, what makes that name soooo familiar? *g*

    Bristol-Myers/Mead is one of the largest employers in Southwestern Indiana

    IU’s Kelly School of Business even put together a report on the economic impact of Eli Lily in Indiana.

    This study shows that in 2007 Lilly contributed $8.03 billion, approximately 3.3 percent, to Indiana’s gross state product (GSP is the state equivalent to gross domestic product or GDP). That is, if Lilly did not exist or moved all its operations to another state, Indiana’s GSP would be 3.3 percent lower than its current value. This figure, consistent with the definition of GDP, does not count the additional ripple effects associated with that loss. Lilly ranks #6 in Indiana in terms of number of employees and has a total statewide economic footprint of $4.1 billion.

    So personal relationships aside, anyone representing IN has to be mindful of Lily and Bristol Myers (and Crane for that matter). Mindful is not the same as rolling over, but decks tend to get stacked fast.

    • Rayne says:

      Your comment points to a major hole in Waxman’s tack.

      Every one of the Big Pharma also need to disclose the same info; they contribute to out-of-control costs as much as health insurers.

      One of the biggest areas of potential cost improvement is their corporate campaign contributions. Pharma’s total contributions during 2008 cycle were nearly $30 million dollars – that’s a lot of potential meds.

  11. Mary says:

    For some reason when I try to put up the link for the Kelly report my whole post gets knocked for a data base error.

    So I’ll try it here with some spaces


    That seems to have worked – I thought I was getting spun bc I had included a quip on Tobias

  12. joanneleon says:

    PPM is usually parts per million, but that doesn’t seem to apply.

    Could it be this PPM?

    Strong Owner. PPM America is an indirect subsidiary of Prudential plc, a company incorporated in the United Kingdom which is a publicly traded holding company (”UK Parent”).* Our UK Parent and its affiliated companies constitute one of the world’s leading financial services groups. It provides insurance and financial services directly and through its subsidiaries and affiliates throughout the world. It has been in existence for over 160 years and has $364 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2008.

    * Our UK Parent is not affiliated in any manner with Prudential Financial, Inc., a company whose principal place of business is in the United States of America.
    PPM America

  13. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    It appears that one of the recipient companies (I’m trying to figure out what PPM would be the abbreviation for) went whining to Mike Allen, complaining,

    Oh, sweet Jeebuz!
    I just wrote a Sentinel Diary on a segment of today’s Morning Meeting on which Allen spewed far more ignorance than should be allowed on any given teevee program.

    And it’s taken up too damn much of my morning.
    But I am **that** pissed.

    So I come over here, and more Mike Allen ignorance…

    But it does underscore how remarkable Henry Waxman is, to make so much headway in such an incredibly corrupt information environment. He’s kind of a one-man Information Haz-Mat crew, is Henry Waxman.

  14. joanneleon says:

    I hope that Brave New Films can use this new information to expand on their Sick For Profit video.

    I just have to say though that it’s about time someone took this tack with the health care reform initiative. The Big Health corporate mob has been coddled up until now.

    So, we know that a real public option means war with the mob. Who has decided to wage it, Waxman on his own or is he doing this for the admin.? I’m guessing it’s the former but I don’t know. Does anyone else think that the mob has been reneging on agreements they made and that’s why the public option was going under the bus? I just don’t buy the bipartisanship excuses.

  15. WilliamOckham says:

    The PPM is from filename of the Politico’s copy of the letter. The file name is:


    From the document properties, some additional information is:

    Title: Microsoft Word – Waxman Letter – Images Embedded
    Author: aalexovich
    PDF Producer: Acrobat Distiller 8.1.0 (Windows)

    Also, note that the first page of the Politico document has a fax machine imprint from Waxman’s subcommittee and is of noticeably lower quality that the document on the subcommittee’s website.

    From those facts, I suspect that Waxman’s subcommittee faxed this letter to all those insurers. One of them either gave a physical copy to Politico or emailed an electronic version to them. From there, Ariel (like the mermaid, it says on Politico’s site) Alexovich imported an image file into Microsoft Word, clipped the identifying information from the file (this part could have been done before importing it into Word) and then printed it to Adobe Distiller.

    Unfortunately, that means that the PPM probably means the fax image was in PPM format before being imported into Word. That would account for the crappy quality…

    • emptywheel says:

      That’s what I was afraid of–we can’t figure out which of the whiny insurance execs was whining to Mike Allen.

      Though as soon as I looked at the letter it was clear they were trying to protect their source. Jeebus. Henry never sends out letters that look that sloppy.

  16. TarheelDem says:

    Notice anything interesting? Who was not on the list? Anthem, for one.

    And judging from the companies in the South, this list might just line up with companies that also are contractors for processing Medicare and other government insurance program claims. Or they might be companies involved in the current federal government plan. And we know that a couple of them have spouses of members of Congress involved somehow in the company.

    I don’t think that this is just a random list.

    • emptywheel says:

      What do you mean?

      I also know that some of the worse BCBS’s are on there.

      And yes, I pointed ot Wellpoint bc we know there’s a big spousal relationship.

      • TarheelDem says:

        I know for a fact that BC/BS of South Carolina has the IT contract for processing Medicare claims. I was just curious why a big private for-profit BC/BS company that operates in IN, KY, OH, CT, CO and other states (Anthem) was not on the list. And I speculated that it might have to do with who has government contracts for processing Medicare.

        Aha! I just found out that WellPoint bought out Anthem. So maybe I was just chasing a wild goose.

  17. orionATL says:

    rayne @8


    why that’s “parts per million.”

    the term describes how the obama political machine is going to divide up the health care reform pie.

    when the feast is over, the corporate steak-eaters obama invited to the table will leave with many tens of thousands of PPM of “health care reform” per institution.

    then us ordinary citizens will be allowed to crawl around under table and glean what we may from what’s left of the reform pie,

    say 1 or 2 crumbs per citizens, i.e.,

    1 or 2 PPM of health care reform for us’ns.

  18. flyarm616 says:

    I wish Henry would ask which MSM Corp has members on both Health Insurance Corp Boards and Media Corp boards!! Same with Big Pharma..we need to know who’s hands are in both pockets!

  19. CTMET says:

    Mrs. Bayh sure is a busy lady, or maybe she just collects alot of checks.
    Here are her board memberships.

    Company Title Years on Board
    Corvas International, Inc Member of the Board of Directors 2000-Present

    Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NasdaqGS:CBST) (Prior) Member of the Board of Directors (Prior) 2000-2004

    Dendreon Corp. (NasdaqGM:DNDN) Member of the Board of Directors 2003-Present

    Dyax Corp. (NasdaqGM:DYAX) Member of the Board of Directors 2003-Present

    Emmis Communications Corp. (NasdaqGS:EMMS) Member of the Board of Directors 1994-Present

    Esperion Therapeutics Inc. Member of the Board of Directors 2001-Present

    Golden State Foods Corporation Member of the Board of Directors –

    MDRNA, Inc. (NasdaqGM:MRNA) (Prior) Member of the Board of Directors (Prior) 2005-2009

    Novavax, Inc. (NasdaqGM:NVAX) (Prior) Member of the Board of Directors (Prior) 2004-2005

    WellPoint Inc. (NYSE:WLP) Member of the Board of Directors, Unit Board Member (Prior) 1998-Present

  20. edgery says:

    PPM in health insurance usually refers to the company’s Policy and Procedures Manual — a critical document that has been the smoking gun in more than one lawsuit as it can document exactly how claim decisions can be dragged out.

  21. PJEvans says:

    That explains why Henry is only having one meeting this month (Friday, on global warming, at UCLA).

    I believe Anthem/WellPoint owns or at least controls Blue Cross of California.

    Who owns Pacificare?

    (My employer offers two crappy choices and one semi-crappy choice: Blue Cross CA, Pacificare, and Kaiser. The information available to me is a 90-page PDF written in Insurance-Lawyer that doesn’t answer my reasonable questions, or my unreasonable ones either.)

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