Regence Tells Brokers to Oppose Premium Tax in Health Reform Bill

The $6.7 billion tax to cover the uninsured will supposedly be passed onto consumers

December 18, 2009 -- In an email to brokers and agents, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon tells them to urge their elected representatives to vote against the healthcare reform bill in Congress because it's estimated to raise premiums on those who have insurance.

Similar to the provider tax imposed by Oreogn legisators, the health reform bill in the Senate imposes a $6.7 billion health insurance premium tax to pay for expanding coverage for the uninsured. And as they did in Oregon, insurers nationally are expected to pass that tax onto ratepayers.

In an email sent yesterday titled Grassroots Communication on Health Insurance Premium Tax, Mike Becker, head of regulatory and legislative affairs for Regence, told agents and brokers to push for "real reform" that lowers costs.

"Most Americans agree that health care reform is needed to lower costs and provide health insurance for more people," Becker wrote. "Included in the health care reform package in the Senate is a $6.7 billion health insurance premium tax. A vote on health care reform is imminent in the Senate. We must continue to tell our elected officials that real reform will lower costs, improve quality and health outcomes. It should not result in higher taxes and higher premiums.

"Please take the time today to contact your elected federal officials. Their contact information and a sample communication are found below. In addition, please send a similar “Letter to the Editor” to your local newspaper."

The sample letter is as follows:

Health insurance reform is needed to cover the uninsured, lower costs, and improve quality and health outcomes. Health reform must not result in higher taxes and higher premiums.

The Congressional Budget Office has stated that the proposed annual $6.7 billion health insurance premium tax will result in “higher premiums for private coverage.” This places the burden squarely on the backs of employers and middle class families.

Please oppose any measures that result in higher taxes and higher premiums for the 182 million Americans who currently have health insurance.

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