Waxman Keeps Gathering Data

On August 17, Henry Waxman requested information from insurance companies designed to embarrass them and those who attend their conferences. We later found out that Waxman had been collecting information longer than that–he started researching insurance Astroturf in July.

Today, Waxman sent letters to Aetna, Humana, Medica, United Health, Wellmark, and Wellpoint to find out whether they’ve been purging small businesses that employ someone who experiences a medical crisis.

"I began looking into the practices of the health insurance industry in the last Congress and was deeply disturbed by what we uncovered," said Chairman Waxman.  "As part of our ongoing investigation, we are now looking into the practice of health insurance companies terminating the coverage of small businesses when their employees become ill and their health insurance claims increase.  We need to better understand how widespread this harmful and destructive practice has become, and how it is impacting small businesses and their employees across the country."

"As we continue our investigation into business practices in the health insurance industry, the treatment of small businesses remains a concern," said Chairman Stupak.  "We have documented examples of insurance companies raising small business premiums by an unsustainable amount or canceling a policy once it is discovered a covered employee is sick.  Much like rescissions in the individual market, this practice is alarming.  To better understand how prevalent this practice is and precisely how many small businesses are impacted, we are asking some of the largest insurers to provide information on their small business policies."

The Committee is requesting information and documents for small group policies, including their renewal rates, factors used to determine premium rates, and the maximum premium rate increases.[my emphasis]

Now, none of this is going to do any good unless Waxman starts liberating this information  to be used in the health care fight. His request for information that should embarrass the Bayhs is due back on Friday–we’ll see whether we can make use of this information then.

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22 replies
  1. radiofreewill says:

    The only way we Lose a Public Option is if the Spin Wins.

    The facts are with US.

    Let’s mobilize All of our Truth-telling resources to Stop the Greedy, Self-Interested Liars in their tracks and make Healthcare for Everyone a Reality!

  2. fatster says:

    Go Waxman! Why is he one of the few (the only?) congresscritters to try and gather such info?

    And there’s also this:

    House Leadership Memo Urges Dems: Remember That Public Option Has Tons Of Support
    The Plum LineGreg Sargent’s blog

    “In a sign that House Dem leaders remain committed to making a public option a part of health care reform, the leadership is urging members in a new polling memo to keep in mind that the public plan remains overwhelmingly popular despite weeks of attacks on it.”

    More.

  3. PJEvans says:

    I hadn’t heard about this particular practice of the insurance scammers companies, but I can’t say that I’m surprised.

  4. eagleye says:

    A cousin of mine is attending a town hall meeting tonight in Arizona. She’s bringing a sign that says, “I’m for the pubic option” just to see if the wingnuts catch the spelling.

    • FormerFed says:

      I am so damned tired of hearing about Favre, and last time I checked the score was 17-10.

      I admire Waxman, but not much seems to ever come out. The complete Committee hearings are just about useless.

  5. regret says:

    If something like 80% of the country wants a public option, why is it we haven’t mobilized this population in any way?

    • Hmmm says:

      I have been asking this for months. Why is there no progressive leadership on the national stage for public demonstrations, no March on Washington for Health Care for All, etc.? Larry Flynt of all people has called for a national work stoppage day, and I think that would be, if well managed and cleanly messaged, an excellent start.

  6. orionATL says:

    formerfed and loo hoo @7&8

    add sen russ feingold and cngr john conyers to that list.

    “terrible things have happened (or might happen)”,

    these congressional worthies declare.

    “action is required; somebody needs to do something”,

    they declare.

    “bu, bu, bu but not by ME”,

    they declare.

  7. PJEvans says:

    None of them seem to be interested in doing much more than having hearings – except for the wingnuts, who (fortunately) don’t have the power to do anything. Yet.

    At least Waxman is holding hearings. Whether anything happens is kind of up to us, in that we can apply pressure to other congresscritters. (I can’t do much more than what I’m already doing: Waxman is my congresscritter.)

    • FormerFed says:

      I agree that it gets discouraging, but we have to keep at it. I will continue to kick in my small donations to people and/or causes I believe in. And even though I am stuck with McCain and Kyl, I can still call other senators and congress critters to tell them how I feel.

  8. randiego says:

    drip drip drip

    let’s hope the truth keeps dripping away.

    OT: Have you guys seen this? It’s awesome and I just posted it on my facebook:

    District-by-District Analysis of Healthcare Reform

    My District (CA-50; Bilbray) shows “up to 15,800 small businesses could receive tax credits to provide coverage to their employees; 11,300 seniors would avoid the donut hole in Medicare Part D; 1,500 families could escape bankruptcy each year due to unaffordable health care costs; health care providers would receive payment for $38 million in uncompensated care each year; and 86,000 uninsured individuals would gain access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.”

    • FormerFed says:

      Interesting numbers. However, the 97% number doesn’t compute for a couple of districts I checked on, so that instantly casts a little doubt on the entire report.

      Also I am sure that my Rep – Gabby Giffords doesn’t appreciate the gender change.

      A little sloppy on the staff work.

  9. TheraP says:

    I’m a “small business” – as small as they come. I have a catastrophic policy and have been in excellent health, with the exception of one year when I had a series of tests and the “catastrophic” kicked in so that the insurance company actually had to pay something. They paid very little, actually, in comparison to my $5000 deductible and what they collect as a premium. Nevertheless between 2002 and 2009, the yearly premiums went up over 150%! (The year they actually paid something was 2005, so maybe the jump was even steeper between 2005 and 2009. I called the State one year and was really shocked that they could simply raise the premiums so much without any penalty at all.)

    I’ve read that the average premiums have doubled in 10 years. But you can see in my “small business” case we’re talking 7 years and way more than doubling!

    The good news for me is that our state has a short-term policy with a non-profit insurance company which kicks in for me (literally) today. The policy cannot be purchased for longer than 6 months – but the six month date, luckily for me, ends with the word “Medicare”.

    I’m just one tiny data point. But it gives you a hint. Waxman is certainly on the right track!

    P.S. Small businesses and individuals also get no coverage whatsoever for psych. So factor in that they pay much higher premiums but it only covers strictly medical stuff. Forget it if anyone has a family member who needs psychotherapy. (I’ve done quite a bit of therapy with small business owners over the years – at a reduced fee – for that very reason.)

  10. cougar says:

    The “expert” analysis says any hope of health care insurance reform must see a bill passed before the end of the year.

    Does anyone think:
    1) the recipients of Waxman’s letters do not know this
    2) have any intention at all of answering the letters

    “Due process” may eventually squeeze the information out of them but not before the next (2011) congress.

    • bmaz says:

      Don’t know if you will stumble back in, but what the hell does that mean? Cause on the surface, it doesn’t sound real – eh- appropriate.

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