Insurance Companies: Investigation reveals cozy relationships, revolving doors and shady financial ties with state regulators

Insurance Companies: Center for Public Integrity reveals gifts, trips, contributions to insurance regulators

Insurance companies are spending big bucks to influence state insurance regulators.

An investigation by the Center for Public Integrity reveals that half of the country’s “109 insurance commissioners who have left their posts in the last decade have gone on to work for the industry they used to regulate — many leaving before their terms expire. Just two moved into consumer advocacy.”

The investigation combed through lobbyist reports, financial disclosure forms, campaign finance records and more than 3,700 pages of emails, to reveal an endless stream of gifts, junkets and lavish dinners paid for by insurance companies.

“I had a blast with you Monday night,” the Arkansas insurance commissioner emailed a United Healthcare lawyer, according to one email obtained through a public records request. “Thank you so much for entertaining us.”

In addition to lavish gifts, insurance companies have supplied their insurance regulators with thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.

“Over the past decade, insurance companies and their employees were among the top political donors to commissioner candidates in at least six of the 11 states that elect regulators, according to data collected by the National Institute on Money in State Politics,” the CPI investigation notes.

We’re very pleased to see such thoughtful and dutiful reporting. So many times, we hear from patients who wonder why so many politicians are unwilling to support common-sense proposals. This investigation explains just what patients are up against.

Read the entire investigation by the Center for Public Integrity.

Quote of the Day: “Difficult at Times to Take a Stand”

“It’s very difficult at times to take a stand for consumers and have your voice heard, A lot of commissioners don’t bother doing that for that reason — and they don’t want to alienate the industry. …Many people consider the job an audition for a better-paying job.”

–Sally McCarty, a former Indiana commissioner and retired consumer advocate

Check out your state

The Center for Public Integrity has made it easy for patients and consumers to do their own research into the insurance industry’s influence in their state.

The non-profit has collected disclosure reports for insurance commissioners from around the country. These are publicly-available documents, which have now been assembled and posted on a single website.

Financial disclosure reports identify a government official’s business investments, spousal employment or corporate-paid travel.

According to CPI, “Forty-three states and the District of Columbia require insurance commissioners to file some kind of personal financial disclosure report. All but two of those jurisdictions — Hawaii and Vermont — make the documents available for public inspection. Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming have no such disclosure requirements.”

Check out their disclosure page here.

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