AFL-CIO President Trumka asks Insurance Commissioners to Investigate Insurance Giants for Raising Health Care Premiums

(Washington, DC) - In letters issued today, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called on insurance commissioners in Connecticut, Indiana, New York and Pennsylvania to investigate the impact on consumers' health insurance premiums of the costs of companies' lobbying to defeat health insurance reform.  The laws in these states require insurance regulators to approve rate changes.  Two of the four top insurance companies are headquartered in these states-WellPoint in Indiana and Cigna in Pennsylvania. 

"The health care industry's lobbying expenditures have clearly impacted consumers' health care costs," Trumka wrote, noting that skyrocketing costs have driven the current health care crisis.  "We believe that health insurance providers' lobbying expenditures have led to excessive rate hikes," he added, urging a precise review of lobbying expenditures before rate increases are approved.  

The AFL-CIO calls out Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which has requested a rate hike of up to 30 percent in Connecticut, for example, while spending more than $9.5 million on lobbying activities.  Similarly, UnitedHealthcare recently proposed a premium increase for its Medicare supplemental insurance while spending more than $2.6 million on lobbying activities in the first half of 2009 alone. 

President Trumka also called for an investigation into UnitedHealthcare and Anthem/WellPoint for forcing employees to attend captive audience meetings intended to pressure them into helping their employers oppose pending health insurance reform legislation. 

In the past 10 years, premiums for employer based health insurance rose 120 percent, even as the health care industry spent more than $3.5 billion on lobbying activities.  Insurance companies are currently lobbying to defeat the inclusion of a public health insurance option in health reform that would provide competition to lower costs and hold private insurance companies accountable.   

Contact: Amaya Tune (202) 637-5018