For those insurance industry people old enough but still capable of remembering where they were when told that Elvis Presley had died, one of the fascinating parts of the whole experience was his subsequent sightings.
The craze has since died down, but for several years after his death in August of 1977, reports of his sightings across the world were rampant. This was especially so during the months of January, when he was born, and August, when he died.
So it is with the continual reports that the Senate Judiciary Committee will soon mark up legislation repealing the McCarran-Ferguson Act and granting oversight of such hot button issues as life insurance sales practices to the Federal Trade Commission.
The latter is a particular sore point with life agents, who believe prior scrutiny of their practices was Draconian and constituted overreaching.
The latest on this story is that some industry trade groups believe the Senate Judiciary Committee is preparing to deal with such legislation in September.
The rumors of pending action are still strong despite official denials from powerful elements in Congress. Specifically, the minority staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee with Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., ranking member of the committee, denied such plans, and the majority staff wouldn’t comment. Moreover, in the House, the staff of the House Judiciary Committee said action on such legislation is not on their radar screen.
Currently, the insurance industry is the usual suspect for a host of the nation’s ills. Indeed, Barack Obama just recently included the insurance industry as part of the nation’s Evil Empire, along with the pharmaceutical and oil industries. Was it just coincidence that a few days later polls showed him losing ground to Hillary in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008?
For sure, many powerful senators are mad at the industry. For example, Sen. Specter is angry at insurers for the role they played in waylaying the asbestos legislation the senator had personally spent hundreds of hours drafting over an 18-month period.
And Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the committee, harbors dislike of the industry because of what he believes are excessively high rates for medical malpractice insurance.
Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., is a new recruit; a product of his being a charter member of the Slab Club, those members of Congress (MOCs) who felt wronged when the industry didn’t reimburse them instantly for the loss of homes swept away by Hurricane Katina.
And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is an avid supporter of the plaintiff lawyer’s industry, as is Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., another member of both the Senate majority leadership and the Judiciary Committee.