Policy-ish

Insurance Workers Pipe Up At Town Halls


Take a look way back in the corner of a town hall meeting on health overhaul and you might just find someone who works for an insurance company.

hand raised in town hall crowd i i

hide captionPick me.

iStockphoto.com
hand raised in town hall crowd

Pick me.

iStockphoto.com

Thousands of insurance workers, some armed with tips from a trade group, have been trooping to the meetings to politely make the case for their beleaguered industry.

Maybe that's why we hadn't noticed them until the Wall Street Journal wrote about them today.

Take Lary Loew of Wheeling, W.Va., who turned out for Rep. Alan Mollohan's (D., W.Va.) meeting there a little over a week ago. Loew runs an employee benefits company in town and told the Journal he showed up because "my whole industry is being threatened."

It became another rowdy meeting once the question session began, according to an account from West Virginia Public Broadcasting. One woman made the case for government-sponsored health insurance by talking about her disabled daughter's need for coverage after she leaves school.

That's when Loew, who told the Journal he hadn't been coached, got the chance to say the insurance industry had agreed as part of an overhaul to accept everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions, so no public option is needed.

Out in Portland, Ore., Rep. David Wu, a Democrat, spent a bunch of his time dealing with hecklers at a town hall meeting two weeks ago, the Associated Press reported. Questioners got picked at random and Dan Lucas, a computer worker at Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon, never got his turn, the Journal reports.

Lucas was irked by attacks on profit-hungry insurers, when companies like his are non-profits. Regence, he told someone in line before the meeting, has a 2.2 percent profit margin—not the 35 percent as the guy had claimed is commonplace for insurers.

Wu, for his part, said folks, regardless of their position, shouldn't be "demonizing" opponents, the AP reported.

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