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State should have taken on Blue Cross

Posted: July 16, 2008 1:34 a.m.
Updated: September 16, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 

On July 4, I read an article in The Signal titled “State feared insurance big guns.” In summary, the article stated that Anthem Blue Cross had the largest number of rescissions “about 1,770” between January 1, 2004, and now. Having read this article, I turned a bright shade of purple. There is nothing that can destroy a family faster than to have their health insurance cancelled. Although the article does not say, I assume these were most likely individual insurance policies and not group policies.

Oddly enough my rage is not against Blue Cross but rather the state regulatory agency responsible for seeing to it that state law and regulations are being complied with. I was enraged to see the Department of Managed Health Care’s spokesperson, Cindy Ebnes, telling the press that Blue Cross is too powerful to take on. This is the worst example of a breech of trust that I have ever seen in print. State and Federal regulatory agencies are set up to protect individuals from the misconduct of large corporations or entities who abuse the public. I worked for a federal regulatory agency for 25 years, and I know how difficult it can be to seek enforcement against a giant corporation.

Yes, it is a lot of work, and it ties up government agencies’ resources, but that is their job. When you get a difficult enforcement problem, you take a deep breath and begin the legal process. You know it is going to be tough and time-consuming, but you do it because you are supposed to do it. To simply say that the corporation is too big and the job it too tough does not cut it. I still cannot believe a spokesperson for a government agency made the statement attributed to her. Yes, litigation is time-consuming and costly, but that is what we are paying these civil servants for in the first place. Also, even I as a non-lawyer know that the way to proceed is to choose a few of your best cases, those that are most blatant violations of the State statute, and proceed on them.

If you win on these cases, for some reason the large corporation suddenly finds that settling these cases is easier than going to court. Shame on the Department of Managed Health Care for finking out just because the going has gotten a little tough. Additionally, shame on our state Legislature and the governor for allowing this to happen.

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