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Montana Takes Center Stage in National Health Care Reform Debate

Big Sky State’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester Key Players in Ongoing Debate



WASHINGTON, D.C., May 20, 2009 – The Independent Insurance Agents Association of Montana (IIAM) and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) have ongoing efforts in Montana to educate Montana insurance consumers on the inherent problems of a government run health insurance system and to communicate with the state’s two senators, Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), on health care reform needs, goals and details. As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Baucus is expected to be the primary author of the health care reform legislation and Sen. Tester will also be a key vote.

“The Independent Insurance Agents Association of Montana (IIAM) represents main street businesses in every city and town in Montana,” says Linda Schmaing, CIC, IIAM president, Streeter Brothers Insurance in Billings. “Our customers are the citizens of Montana -- businesses, homeowners, farmers, automobile owners, retirees, and of course health insurance policyholders. Montana’s independent agents add value for the citizens and businesses of Montana. We, and many of our customers, are strongly urging Senators Baucus and Tester to work to maintain the role of independent insurance agents in the health insurance marketplace and oppose the creation of a public plan.”

“Congress is expected to embark on major reform of the nation’s health care system this summer and Montana’s two senators may hold the keys to protect consumers and the value added by Montana’s independent agents,” says Bob Biskupiak, CPCU, CIC, IIAM CEO & executive director in Helena. “The IIAM will be conducting a major effort to educate Montana’s insurance consumers on the inherent dangers in a government run health insurance program that would compete against and drive out private businesses.”

“Montana’s independent insurance agents and brokers serve as trusted advisors in the placement, installation and ongoing service of health insurance for individuals, main street businesses, and for corporations and their employees,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “Each individual and business has distinct health care needs, and agents help consumers navigate the complex marketplace.”

“Any government effort to replace or supplant the private industry in the sale and delivery of health insurance will have disastrous effects on independent agents and the consumers we serve in Montana,” says Robin Nelson, CIC, AAI, IIAM national director, Bishop Insurance Service in Ronan.

Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.

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