Lobbyist Bribe Allegation – Health Insurance Connection?
Yesterday we posted a clip from last week’s UNC-TV Leg Week where analysts discussed the House Ethics Committee action related to bribery allegations. In short, a legislator reported to the Ethics Committee that a lobbyist offered to have a client forgive a debt of a constituent in return for that legislator killing a bill he was sponsoring.
The Ethics Committee hasn’t identified any of the players in this drama, but the NC Insider last week reported that the bill that was the subject of the alleged offer was House Bill 1485, which would place some restrictions on how health insurance companies can recover overpayments to doctors and other health providers.
If so, this would mean that the legislator who reported to the Ethics Committee would have to be one of the primary sponsors of this bill: Representatives Steen, Barnhart, Neumann or England. In addition, the subject matter of the bill gives an indication about which companies might be involved – since it directly impacts health insurance companies, it is possible that a health insurer in the state is the employer of the lobbyist who is the subject of the bribery allegation.
While the North Carolina Association of Health Plans (the health insurance company lobbying group) doesn’t list its full membership on its website for some reason, a look at its board of directors gives you a list of some of the major health insurance companies in the state most involved in the health insurer lobbying group:
Of course there are other health insurers in North Carolina – a look at www.ehealthinsurance.com gets you quotes for individual coverage not only from UnitedHealth and Aetna, but also from Celtic Health Insurance and Coventry Health Care Plans.
All these insurers would have their operations affected by this bill in North Carolina – and most, either directly or through their association, employ lobbyists. This doesn’t mean that a lobbyist employed by one of these insurers is the subject of the bribery allegations. However, given that the bill involved is one that directly affects insurers, this is certainly one area to start looking.