Harkin downplays Principal Financial Group decision

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) on Friday downplayed the significance of a finance company's recent decision to get out of the health insurance business.

Harkin, who chairs the Senate health committee, said the move by Des Moines-based Principal Financial Group to shed its insurance sector hardly represents a trend. 

“A business decision made by one company that was already decreasing their focus on the health insurance market should not serve as any indication of the success of this landmark law," Harkin said in a statement. "In fact, Iowans will continue to see their benefits grow as more provisions of the Affordable Care Act take effect in the months and years to come."

On Friday, The New York Times indicated that Principal's decision was, at least in part, spurred by the new restrictions on insurance companies contained in the new law. The move, The Times wrote, is "another sign of upheaval emerging among insurers as the new federal health law starts to take effect." 

Yet Susan Voss, Iowa's insurance commissioner, is siding with Harkin. She told Politico Thursday that "there's no correlation between health reform and Principal." 

"They have been slowly decreasing the medical percentage of their revenue base for 10 years now, from something like 30 percent down to 3 percent," Voss said. "We knew a decade ago they were focusing on a different market. … This is a strict business decision."