Monday, March 5, 2012


Self-Insurance Industry Can Learn By Example in the Political Influence Game

This blog has commented previously about how the self-insurance/alternative risk transfer industry needs to get its act together if it wants to exercise the same amount of political power in Washington, DC as many other industries of comparable size.

If you need to be convinced of this conclusion, you may want to take notice of legislative
developments related to whether broker commissions will be excluded from health insurer medical loss ratio calculations in accordance with the Affordable Care Act.

A few months ago, HHS determined that broker commissions would not be carved out of MLR calculations. This prompted the brokers to ramp up their political efforts in Congress to pass legislation to override the HHS final rule.

To put a finer point on this description, the brokers have been making more political
contributions and showing up in Washington, Dc to press their case with key members of Congress.

As of today, the political action committee sponsored by one of their trade groups is more than five times as large as the PAC supporting the self-insurance/ART industry. Another broker trade group expects to have nearly 1,000 members come to Washington, DC for a dedicated lobbying event.

This activity has produced initial success. The Access to Professional Health Insurance Advisors (H.R. 1206), originally introduced in the House last March, now has nearly 180 co-sponsors. A companion bill (S. 2068) has now been introduced in the Senate and has attracted bipartisan
support.

While it still remains a heavy lift to pass significant legislation in an election year, the brokers have made solid progress by any objective standard. The self-insurance/ART industry could learn by example.

Self-insurers and captive insurance companies have good stories to tell for sure, but that is not enough to have real political influence in Washington, DC.

This blog estimates that about five percent of those individuals active in the self-insurance/ART industry directly support political advocacy efforts that would directly benefit their business
interests. Such political participation rate is certainly much higher among the brokers -- and we have illustrated their return on investment.

Clearly, expectations would be different if the self-insurance/ART industry did not have the necessary financial and human resources to leverage significant political influence.

But it does.

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