Wednesday, May 10, 2006


A resolution to ban embedded lobbyists

Apparently the governor blasted "embedded lobbyists" (remember: you heard that term first right here!) at a news conference, which gave me my six seconds of fame on KITV this evening. Reporter Denby Fawcett interviewed me on this issue.

I learned from her that a resolution, SR168, was introduced by Sen. Bunda to change Senate rules so that embedded corporate lobbyists would no longer be allowed. Unfortunately, the resolution wasn't adopted.

Elsewhere in the story, KITV credited responsibility for the language that killed health insurance rate regulation for all of us (and we'll pay dearly for that) to HMSA's registered lobbyist, Jennifer Diesman. Pacific Business news credits the poison pill to Kaiser:
The bill died because House and Senate lawmakers couldn't agree on amendments drafted by Kaiser Permanente Hawaii that would have made it harder for the state to deny insurers' rate proposals, according to state insurance commissioner J.P. Schmidt.
Whichever, it appears that Rep. Herkes was bent on changing the law to favor the insurance industry.

Maybe he was just thanking them for loaning him their corporate executive.

And so insurance rate regulation died, because the Senate was having none of Herke's language and didn't agree to the loaded bill. Senator Menor, who introduced one of the bills to simply remove the sunset provision of the existing law (and thus make rate regulation permanent) valiently tried to save the day by recommitting the poisoned bill to conference committee where it could be sanitized. But House leadership didn't agree, and so the bill died.

Employers will certainly pay for this if insurance premiums climb like uncapped gas prices. So will individuals who pay premiums to cover their families.

Herkes comes to us from the Big Island, so all I can hope for is that they remember who to thank as their pockets are being picked by already fat monopolistic health insurers. Neighbor Island residents get inferior service too, there are shortages in key medical specialties. Perhaps they will show their appreciation at the voting booth.

Let's keep the pressure on, and perhaps a rule to prevent corporate lobbyists can be put into effect in the next session.


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