Liberal group presses for disclosure of insurers' lobbying of state regulators

The liberal grassroots group Health Care for America Now on Thursday called for insurance lobbying expenditures at the state level to be made public. 

The group said the HMO and insurance industries have spent almost $769 million since 2007 on federal lobbying but that no such figures are available at the state level. That's cause for concern, HCAN said, because more than 1,000 health insurance lobbyists and executives are expected to attend the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' annual meeting during the next few days as the state regulators define key reform provisions such as the medical loss ratio.

"The insurance companies are spending an unprecedented amount of money to stampede regulators into gutting critical consumer protections before they even take effect," HCAN Executive Director Ethan Rome said. "These massive lobbying expenditures must be disclosed. The public has a right to know how much the insurance companies are spending to protect their excessive profits and outrageous CEO pay."

Only New York has records on state health insurance lobbying "readily available," HCAN said, while some others keep documents on paper or in databases that aren't easily accessed. Since 2007, insurers in the Empire State spent $10.6 million on lobbying, according to data from the New York State Commission on Public Integrity.