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Professional Insurance Agents Meet With Members of Congress During Annual District Lobbying Events

WASHINGTON, August 18, 2009 - For the fourth year in a row, members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) across...
August 18, 2009

WASHINGTON, August 18, 2009  - For the fourth year in a row, members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) across the nation are meeting with their members of Congress in their home districts during August. The focal point for the agents is August 18, their annual District Lobbying Day.

"This year our number one issue of focus - along with the rest of the country - is health care reform," said PIA National President Kenneth R. Auerbach, Esq. "PIA's position is clear. We believe that the private health insurance system must form the basis of any health care reform. Congress should build on the private health care delivery system, not dismantle it."

The agents' visits with lawmakers come as negotiations on health care reform proposals continue during the August congressional recess. On August 16, President Obama's Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said a public insurance option was "not the essential element" of any overhaul, and non-profit cooperatives being considered by a Senate panel could also fulfill the White House goal of creating more competition on insurance.

Professional insurance agents also got some good news when it was learned that new language in a House bill gives agents explicit authority to sell policies within the health insurance "exchanges" that would be created under the legislation. The provision would also give agents the authority to sell the so-called "public plan," if one is created. The provision was inserted shortly before the House recessed by conservative Democrats including Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.). Melancon - a former insurance agent and PIA member - is the local congressman of PIA National Immediate Past President Robert Page, who has met with the lawmaker many times along with PIA of Louisiana to discuss health care reform issues.

"PIA's message is getting across," noted Auerbach. "The change to allow agent participation in any health care 'exchanges' fulfills one of PIA's Principles for Health Care Reform that have formed the basis for PIA's lobbying efforts, both on Capitol Hill and in our in-district lobbing visits during August. Specifically, our position is that Congress should build on the private health care delivery system, not seek to dismantle it, and that Congress should preserve the role of independent agents and brokers in the sale and delivery of health insurance under any provision in healthcare reform legislation."

In addition to health care, the insurance agents are discussing these other key issues with their elected representatives.

Federal Regulation: Among proposals being debated in Congress are those that would federalize the entire insurance industry. PIA supports state regulation of insurance and opposes turning it over to a federal bureaucrat.

Natural Catastrophes: Congress is playing particularly close attention to natural disasters and how to cope with them. PIA is actively supporting legislation to encourage mitigation efforts and advising lawmakers against creating programs that will compete with the private market.

Flood Insurance: The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is once again set to expire. The House has passed a temporary extension and the Senate needs to follow suit. NFIP is in need of comprehensive reform along with a multi-year renewal to ensure a successful, sound future.
 
Crop Insurance: A successful crop insurance program is essential for our nation's farmers and continued budget cuts will have detrimental effects on the program. Congress is currently debating making additional, considerable cuts to the program which would directly affect crop insurance agents and the farmers they serve. PIA is urging Congress not to make unnecessary cuts.

Addressing the tenor of some recent town hall meetings on health care reform, Auerbach added that the members of PIA firmly believe in the American tradition of open debate and dialogue.

"This exchange of views can be spirited and heartfelt, but it must always be conducted with respect and dignity for all, including our elected representatives and our fellow Americans with whom we may disagree," he said. "In America, everyone has the right to express his or her views. Just as importantly, everyone has the right to have their views heard fully by their fellow citizens. The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents is speaking out - and listening, too."

Founded in 1931, PIA is a national trade association that represents member insurance agents and their employees who sell and service all kinds of insurance, but specialize in coverage of automobiles, homes and businesses. PIA members are Local Agents Serving Main Street America(SM). PIA's web address is www.pianet.com.