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Blue Dog Co-Chairman John Barrow (D-Ga.) to Address the Big “I”

Georgia Democrat—hailed as a fiscal watchdog—is sponsor of agent-supported MLR bill.



WASHINGTON, D.C., April 10, 2012 — The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) today announced that Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), lead Democrat sponsor of H.R. 1206, the “Access to Professional Health Insurance Advisors Act of 2011,” and Co-Chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of fiscally conservative Democrats, will address the association’s membership on Thursday, April 26.

Rep. Barrow will be a keynote speaker, along with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), at the legislative conference breakfast which occurs the morning of the association’s annual Big “I” Day on Capitol Hill.

“The Big ‘I’ is honored to have Rep. Barrow address the association’s membership the morning of our annual agent pilgrimage to Capitol Hill,” says Robert A. Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO. “Big ‘I’ members will be advocating on behalf of H.R. 1206, a bill that would halt the devastating effects on agents that is being caused by the new health care law’s restrictive Medical Loss Ratio provision by removing agent compensation from the formula. Having the bipartisan bill’s top Democrat sponsor address agents will provide them with an insightful and informative lay of the land in Congress.”

In addition to his leadership as policy co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition, Rep. Barrow serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Veterans' Affairs Committee. He represents Georgia’s 12th Congressional District and was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004. He previously served on the Athens-Clarke County Commission. Rep. Barrow earned degrees in political science and history from the University of Georgia and a J.D. from the Harvard Law School.

“As a long-time member and current co-chair of the Blue Dog Coalition, Rep. Barrow is a leading moderate voice on many issues important to Big ‘I’ members and their clients,” says Charles E. Symington, Jr., Big “I” senior vice president for government affairs. “The Big ‘I’ is grateful for Rep. Barrow’s leadership in the Medical Loss Ratio debate and other issues that directly impact independent insurance agents and consumers. We look forward to his address.”

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) established MLR requirements for insurance carriers, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2011. The law mandates that at least 80% (individual and small group) or 85% (large group) of premiums collected by the carrier must be spent on “health care quality improvement.” In other words, no more than 20% or 15%, respectively, may go towards “non-claims costs” such as profits, advertising, administrative costs, etc. If a carrier does not meet these ratios, rebates are due to the consumer. It was determined by HHS that agent commissions count as administrative costs. H.R. 1206, which Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Barrow introduced last year, would correct this error in the PPACA. Similar legislation, S. 2068, the “Access to Independent Health Insurance Advisors Act of 2012,” authored by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), is pending in the Senate.

The Big “I” Legislative Conference & Convention is the insurance industry’s best-attended, most effective legislative meeting. This year’s event will take place April 25-27 at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The legislative conference is an opportunity for Big “I” agents and brokers to discuss important issues with their congressional representatives. Top issues this year include: insurance regulatory reform, extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), agent licensing reform, medical loss ratios (MLRs) and other health care topics, tax reform; the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP), and other  economic challenges facing independent insurance agents and the industry. 

Other highlights of the Big “I” Legislative Conference & Convention include in-depth issues briefing sessions; appearances by numerous high-profile speakers discussing important insurance and national issues confronting lawmakers as well as agents and brokers and hundreds of meetings on Capitol Hill between Big “I” agents and brokers and their elected representatives in the Congress.

For registration and hotel information, go to www.independentagent.com and select the “Events and Conferences” link. Journalists interested in attending, please contact Margarita Tapia, director of public affairs, at (800) 221-7917 or margarita.tapia@iiaba.net for media registration.

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 approximately a quarter of a million 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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