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House Democrats Increase Pressure on Health Insurers

Reps. Henry Waxman (right) and Bart Stupak want a host of financial data from health-insurance companies. (The Washington Post/Bloomberg News)

By Ben Pershing
Two senior House Democrats are seeking a raft of financial figures from health-insurance companies, upping the ante as President Obama and his allies push to make the insurance industry's flaws a centerpiece of their campaign for health-care reform.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the panel's subcommittee on oversight and investigations, wrote letters Monday to more than 50 of the nation's largest insurers informing them that the committee "is examining executive compensation and other business practices in the health insurance industry." They requested detailed information on the compensation packages of the companies' highest-paid employees, as well as information on the companies' boards, conferences and events they sponsored, the profitability of the individual health-care products they sell and revenues earned through government programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

The letters ask that much of the information be provided to the committee by Sept. 4, and the rest by Sept. 14. The House is scheduled to return from recess Sept. 8.

Obama and Democratic leaders on the Hill have sharpened their rhetoric against the insurance industry as the reform debate has progressed. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) advised members of her caucus to focus on insurance companies' alleged misdeeds during the August recess, calling them the "villains" of the health-care system. The insurance industry, in turn, has said it supports reform generally but has been a primary opponent of elements of Obama's plan, particularly the public insurance option that is supported by liberals but now receives only tepid backing from the White House.

Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, said the industry viewed the Waxman-Stupak letters as a "politically driven" distraction from more important issues.

"This is a fishing expedition," Zirkelbach said. "There has been an effort in recent weeks to shift the debate to focus on the health insurance industry rather than solutions on health care."

Both in his current post and his previous one as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Waxman has developed a reputation as a master of orchestrating high-profile hearings, often with representatives of major industries in the hot seat. It is not yet clear whether Waxman and Stupak intend to bring insurance company executives to Capitol Hill for similar grillings before banks of television cameras.

By Ben Pershing  |  August 19, 2009; 1:16 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform , House  
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The insurance companies should write a letter back, with a one sentence reply:

"None of your business."

Much of the data these clowns seek is already in public filings anyway.

The Democrats' effort to Socialize Medicine is on the rocks, so now they seek to demonize the insurance companies for making a profit (gasp!) and paying their top executives too much.

It is classic Saul Alinsky - isolate and personalize the enemy, demonize him, ridicule him, cut him off from support. The Democrats are DESPERATE to demonize the insurance companies because they see the polling where 75%+ of those with insurance are HAPPY with it!

Watch for the insurance companies to hit back, very hard.

Fun to watch. Also scary. The Dems are regrouping and preparing to jam their "public option" (socialized medicine, complete with price controls, wage controls, limits on procedures covered, minimum coverage required, and on and on) plan down the country's throat - by whatever Congressional margin they can muster. September / October will be very interesting, there will probably be massive protests in DC, rightly so.

Posted by: mpaterso | August 19, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

that is right,just tell these socialistic thugs where to go! they have fingers in all kinds of places they dont belong.
surprised these commies have been voted back in especially waxman,what a joke these loons are. they dont even remember who put them there,and think they can count on obamas acorn to do enough voter fraud to keep them in.

Posted by: silusdogood | August 19, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

that is right,just tell these socialistic thugs where to go! they have fingers in all kinds of places they dont belong.
surprised these commies have been voted back in especially waxman,what a joke these loons are. they dont even remember who put them there,and think they can count on obamas acorn to do enough voter fraud to keep them in.

Posted by: silusdogood | August 19, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Did you hear the one about the two Democrats also asking for financial records from the biggest medical malpractice lawfirms?

April Fool!

On the other hand, I am all for really understanding where ALL the "pork" is in our healthcare costs -- I'm shocked that noone seems to know, yet we have a cure all compacted down to 1018 pages.

Posted by: tommariner | August 19, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I'd play hardball with the insurance company thugs. The government is the only entity that can break the monopoly and abusive practices of big corporations. I'd say go for it. We the little people pay up through our noses when the insurance companies DEMAND THEM.

Posted by: mstratas | August 19, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse



~Poorer Americans Nationwide only get 400 million $$$ per year for legal representation allocated them by CONGRESS~

Middle Class and Working Poor Americans are unable to afford proper legal representation in their Civil, Criminal and Family Courts of law all across America causing tremendous hardships nationwide,but these great minds and callous hearts in our American Congress have found others Worldwide more needy then their own citizens who are being falsely incarcerated,wrongfuly executed,losing their homes or apartments,losing child custody or visitation with their children etc…

Not being afforded proper legal representation by our U.S. Congress has created a total breakdown of the American judicial system for our poorer Americans because the our U.S. Courts punish all of us little people if we are not assisted with proprer legal is a known fact that our average Middle Class and Working Poor Americans without proper legal representation in all of our American Courts of law lose their legal cases to the better financed who are able to afford lawyers.

Lawyers For Poor Americans is now actively in the hunt for International Countries and Leaders Worldwide to help raise 5 Billion Dollar$ for our slighted poorer Americans who have had their own American Congress turn their backs on their desperate needs in not affording them proper legal representation.

This is the first of many www International pleas by Lawyers For Poor Americans for other leaders and countries to help raise the needed monie$ to correct these blatant injustices that have been inflicted on poorer Americans for the last few decades.

Posted by: DOUGLASFIELD2 | August 19, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Those who side with the insurance companies need their heads examined. These leeches have controlled the lives of many people and we could not do anything. Insurance companies ration and decide who gets covered, treated, dumped, etc like pieces of meat. They do not think of people as human beings but as commodities. Villains and ghouls. If found having done something illegal, throw these thugs in with the Taliban.

Posted by: mstratas | August 19, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Health Care REform is going to happen whether it is passed or not passed. You might wonder how it can happen without being approved. Well Government will be involved up close and personal with the privacy of every American through H1N1 vaccines and through "cash-for-clunkers" program. Everyone who gets the vaccine will be entered into the government system; everyone involved with cash-for-clunkers purchase is in the government system and in a "GOVERNMENT CAR". What I mean by GOVERNMENT SYSTEM is everyones personal info is in a file with the same government officials who couldn't be trusted with keeping the United States out of debt.
Knowledge is the key to survival!!!

Posted by: dcaveat | August 19, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Those who support the Health Insurance companies are either the company executives or clueless morons. Insurance companies instruct doctors not to spend more than 15-20 minutes per patient, that is why when you go for annual check up, they leave you in the room half-naked & attend to 2nd & 3rd patients.
A friend of ours was pre-maturely discharged from the hospital. The reason the hospital gave was "Insurance(Kaiser) won't cover more than 3 days.Bring him back if he has a relapse".
They delay the payment to the hospitals/doctors by just saying "the doctor's signature doesn't match...the patient's signature doesn't match...we don't know something is a 0 or 6, c or g" so on & so forth. I admit they run a business to make profit. Their's is an obsene way of doing.

Posted by: sarvenk63 | August 19, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Their is no right way or wrong way in fixing Health Care or a GM Car company. If you try to improve something, there will always be a drawback or weakness in the new plan. Sometimes those improvements to something like Health Care may bring up stronger weaknesses, or bigger problems than before.
Knowledge is the key to survival!!!

Posted by: dcaveat | August 19, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Exposing their pay checks will accomplish what exactly?

I'm getting more discouraged each day.

I have a friend who is self-employed with a $3,000 deductible. It is all she can afford. Constantly, routine medical care is avoided and there's no assurance that a major health care issue will be covered.

Those screamers at the town halls yelling about government take over have no idea, apparently, just how bad it is now.

Posted by: smoke111 | August 19, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Ha-ha. Only if Frank can round up enough colleagues to issue subpeonas will the bosses of Big Health Insurance pay any attention to him.

Posted by: ronaldoroso | August 19, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows the real story here. The liberal Democrats want a government run health system, like Europe or Canada. Anyone that has three brain cells left, knows that a profit making institution cannot compete with a non profit institution. So, create legislation with both, the private profit making institution will die off, and you are left with what was desired in the first place: Socialized Medicine.

Posted by: jack29 | August 19, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Chairman Waxman is taking a page from Vladimir Putin's playbook.

Posted by: grochester | August 19, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Screaming gets nothing done in a town hall setting, especially if nobody has read the 1,000 pages of the Health Care Reform Bill. The only people that need to debate it is lawyers because they are the only ones that can halfway translate the bill. If there is nobody that can 100% truly understand the bill, then if Health Care Reform passes, the government can translate health care the best way they see fit.

Posted by: dcaveat | August 19, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Fun to watch. Also scary. The Dems are regrouping and preparing to jam their "public option" (socialized medicine, complete with price controls, wage controls, limits on procedures covered, minimum coverage required, and on and on) plan down the country's throat - by whatever Congressional margin they can muster. September / October will be very interesting, there will probably be massive protests in DC, rightly so.

Posted by: mpaterso | August 19, 2009 1:49 PM

So I assume your private health insurance has no limits on proceedures covered? Have you ever read your policy? If the government is going to offer insurance (the public opion), it has to make decisions that all insurance companies have to make: how much will we reimburse the provider for each type of proceedure, what proceedures will we cover, etc...) Do you really think that any insurance company (public or provate) could offer insurance without making these decisions upfront?

Posted by: NMModerate1 | August 19, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

response to mpaterso...

that is very well stated. Nobody is talking about these things or asking those type of questions. Why? because most Americans are debatting Health Care in GENERAL terms; not HEALTH CARE as a broader SPECTRUM

Posted by: dcaveat | August 19, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

The executive pogrom is getting pretty creepy. What is so immoral about market wages? Why would a profit making company pay their executives any more than they have to?

Why don't the Democrats come out in the open and admit that they hate economic freedom?

Posted by: fallsmeadjc | August 19, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Apparently the government hates transparency also... That is what they keep advertising. No secrets in Government from the U.S. citizens. There seems to be a lot of secrets about Health Care and where a majority of the Stimulus Money went to, or should I say Organization.
I see a great divide in the United States. One that is similar to Confederate States and the Union.

Posted by: dcaveat | August 19, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Here we go again! Another accusation by Nancy Pelosi, calling someone a name. This time it's the insurance companies and she is calling them "villians". Who is next? Henry Waxman and Henry Stupak are no better. They sit on their thrones and call everyone names and demand to know how private companies spend their money. What about Congress showing us how they are spending our money? "Pride comes before a fall."

Posted by: California2 | August 19, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Great idea! especially since the Aetna CEO's salary in 2008 was over $25 MILLION - WHILE Aetna DENIED benefits to its insured.

The Aetna CEO is much like Wall Street executives that received HUGE bonuses for sucking money AWAY from The People.

Posted by: angie12106 | August 19, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Yes - cut funding for Medicare Advantage!

Taxpayers provide $180 BILLION for Medicare Advantage, an INSURANCE plan for seniors that includes more services than standard Medicare.
25% of seniors (wealthy and upper middle class) have Medicare Advantage.

THIS Republican family says if they want more coverage than standard Medicare - they should pay for it themselves!

Posted by: angie12106 | August 19, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

The Healthcare in the country is the largest business and half of the money spend is fraud, going to insurance companies,Pharmaceutilcal companies and the like....We can have health care for all with just the money that is stole from
the Goverment every year....We need reform

Posted by: harmon45 | August 19, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Where in the Constitution do the Democrats get the authority or right ot do that?
This is of course no more that a publicity scheme to make the insurance industry look bad. It is again Obama's divide and conquer strategy at work.
It would be nice if the government was that fast in releasing financial information to the public.
Information like: What is ACORN doing with all that taxpayer money?
What is happening with all the TARP money.
What is happening with Fanny May and Freddy Mac, all we know is they want nore money. This list can go on for weeks.
If anybody should be open with financial data, it is the government because they are spending OUR money.
Obama set an example and demonstrate how open and transparent your administration is. You hid and failed to disclose much information during your campaign and have continued to do so.

Posted by: duif100 | August 19, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

The proper response should be letters that read as follows:

"Dear Congressman:

Bugger off!

Disrespectfully Yours,
The Insurance Industry"

Posted by: RhymesWithRight | August 19, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

The insurance companies should write a letter back, with a one sentence reply:

"None of your business."

Posted by: mpaterso

Oh, I so hope they do. Then, of course, they be charged with ignoring a subpoena from the House which Waxman have every Constitutional right to issue, jailed, and their records siezed as evidence. Only right-wing morons defend insurance companies that are fleecing them.

Posted by: rodneythecat | August 19, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Dear Congressmen Waxman and Stupidak,
Your committee of selective enforcment needs to ask for the following information:

Goldman Sachs compensation package, including Senator Corzine's deferred compensation.

FANNIE AND FREDDIE MAC compensation, car allowances, bonuses, and inflated employee rolls.

AARP meetings with government officials.

Trial Lawyers compensation, how much they make off dead and damaged children, medical mistakes, etc.

Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein's husband hundreds of millions in benefits from govenrment money.,

Obama/Soros funding for oil drilling in Brazil. Why Brazil and not the USA? Did you have a conversation with Soros, that led him to buy controlling interest.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | August 19, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Republicans should sent letters to every union and demand the same information.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | August 19, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

to heck with them..bring on a government option..why throw $60 billion to them without increasing competition..
right now...Millions of American citizens have faced REPUBLICAN DEATH PANELS..those death panels are insurance companies refusing to insure Millions of Americans because of pre-existing conditions..THOSE ARE THE GOSH DARNED DEATH PANELS..NOT THAT HORSH THAT PALEN AND THE OTHER BROWNSHIRTS ARE LYING ABOUT..
those DEATH PANELS which are sponsored by the party of american fascism, the republicans..are GUARDED BY THE WORST BUREAUCRATS IN THE WORLD..INSURANCE COMPANY SALESPERSONS, POLICY UNDERWRITERS, AND CLAIM EVALUATERS..these are truly death panels..and they are supported by palin..

Posted by: w04equals666 | August 19, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Members of Congress have every right to request information from any insurance company that provides health insurance to government employees. They are no different from any other government contractor.

Posted by: EFDTN | August 19, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Waxman is such an empty suit. He should be hung by his nose. What nerve, to investigate anyone, should be against the law. Members of congress are so arrogant it doesn't surprise me. If it was me, I'd tell them to take a flying leap.

Posted by: MOMLEE | August 20, 2009 1:02 AM | Report abuse

Isn't it interersting that protesting Health Care reform makes people an "angry mob".

I did not see the media call Iraq war protesters an angry mob! I did not see them attacking code pink members outbursts in Congressional hearings, the way they do protesters in health care town halls.

It seems we all have freedom of speech, just so long as that speech is in support of things the liberal left agrees with.

Anti-war, anti-Bush protest is fine, but protesting Health care reform or Obama, well that is just wrong!

Posted by: heathergreeneyes | August 20, 2009 6:04 AM | Report abuse

To those decrying 'socialized medicine', will you be participating in the Medicare program when you qualify? If you say 'yes', you'll be participating in socialized medicine because I pay nearly $60 every paycheck into a system that most likely won't be around when I'm old enough to qualify (much like Social Security but that's another rant for another day). Why is it ok for only certain portions of the US population to receive socialized medicine but not all of the population?

Posted by: DvlMayCry | August 20, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

If every single person in this country worked if they are able and if every single person paid THEIR FAIR SHARE OF TAXES a lot of things would be better. Too many manipulate their income (as in Obama's cabinet) while others do under the table cash deals. Sadly, people are only as honest as they can afford to be. We do not need government paid and controlled healthcare, but we do need insurance company oversite and regulation to keep them honest. We especially need drug company oversite and regulation as we are getting ripped off on prescription costs. The so-called "death panels" are actually in place in insurance companies but they are boards of physicians that make the decisions. I do not want the government involved especially when you look at how out of control this administration is. If the deficit is too high there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to stop them from cutting healthcare costs by cutting medical care for the oldest amongst us. This is common sense and it will happen. I want only my personal physician to make that decision, not a government bureaucrat. As all of the dissent suggests, fix our current system and don't throw it out for a "public option" third world option that has not worked for any country that has it. Listen to the people and don't make decisions based on political expediancy.

Posted by: ROYSTOLL2 | August 20, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

It is an excellent point that the war on Iraq cost this country far more than providing basic dental, vision and preventative screening for every American will. A national health care system will provide economic security for the country. How many out there pay for insurance and still have no dental or vision, and avoid going to the doctor because it is still too costly? This is a ridiculous system we have. Make profit on cars, consumer goods, clothing, jewelry, etc. Don't make the health of citizens a profit generating enterprise. We now have a system that generates wealth for a few by effectively eliminating preventative care. The nation is full of obese, unhealthy people with bad teeth. You don't see them at Whole Foods or at the country club, but that is how most Americans exist today.

Posted by: rjbunny | August 20, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Waxman is a detestable human being and a bully to boot. He has no statutory authority for his demands. These insurance companies are regulated by the states, not the federal government. This is purely an act of intimidation and shows exactly why Waxman is not fit for the power he wields. You will notice there was no committee vote on these letters. Waxman did it by himself.

He should be renamed "Henry McCarthy Waxman.


Posted by: goaway41 | August 20, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

If we let the government run our healthcare it will be another failure. They can’t run Medicare now and you want them to run everyone’s healthcare? That is so silly. This is nothing but another power grab by the Obama Administration. Just like the reports of a media consulting firm with ties to White House senior strategist David Axelrod has been hired to produce a multi-million dollar ad campaign touting the Obama administration's health care overhaul. How much corruption are we going to let happen before we stop it? Just like the Cash for Clunkers bill, how is getting Americans to turn in cars that are paid off and working fine helping Americans bottom line? This program is going to do the same thing as the mortgage crisis and get people who can’t afford to buy something making payments that they were not making before.
This is the same thinking and policy making that decided that after a mortgage mess that the best thing to do is offer people 8K to buy houses. How is that going to help? You are just tempting people to buy things that they can’t afford. Isn’t this how our economy got in this predicament anyway? We need to elect leaders that can make decisions and write legislation that makes since. Not dream up a cockamamie scam to stimulate the economy and wreck it. It is time to elect leaders that have brains and that are not under the thumb of special interest and lobbyist. By the way, ask yourself this question...Why isn’t the Obama administrations putting the same sort of effort that they are putting into the healthcare take over and put Americans back to work? He did promise that he would do that. What is more important to you?

Posted by: mongo9584 | August 21, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

The insurer have a lot to gain from health care proposals now being considered. From the poor to above the median income will be subsidized by government, and won't have to pay more than 0-11% of their income, on a sliding scale.

But the don't want to cooperate with rules and regulation, information or the public option competition.

They want to have their cake and eat it too, which boils down to more Wall Street investor profits and higher CEO salaries at the expense of the taxpayer.

If anybody wants to read his book, "Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform"
sign a petition, or contribute to Dean's effort goto this website

Posted by: owldog | August 21, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Politics as usual.

Why wasn't this information requested before liberals started to lose support for the public option?

Posted by: NorthMan | August 21, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

How about let's see the bonuses paid to bankers using taxpayer money. Take out the mark to myth, I mean mark to market accountant scam and most the top five banks are bankrupt. Instead, they can use a fairy tale accountant standard used to price options and have the appearance of health.

Bank of America is estimated to have about 50 trillion of toxic derivatives still on their books. Wait until they figure out a way to wash these toxic assets in a public sale with 85% guaranteed by the taxpayer. The banks will feign ignorance that the assets were worthless, meanwhile the debt gets passed to us. The taxpayers have parasites sucking the life blood out of them. They reside in DC and in the form of government unions.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | August 24, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

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