WASHINGTON BUREAU — A thousand insurance agents and brokers will converge on Washington next week to lobby members of Congress and their staffs on health reform.

The groups sponsoring the “fly-in” include the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, Alexandria, Va.; the National Association of Health Underwriters, Arlington, Va.; the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, Washington; the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va.; and AHIA-NAIFA, NAIFA’s health insurance affiliate;

The fly-in will start Tuesday, but most Capitol Hill meetings will take place Wednesday.

Attendees will be briefed early that day at a hotel near the Capitol. Briefers will talk about the issues involved, how to get to their representatives, and how to phrase their concerns.

“While speaking with congressional leadership during the fly-in, our members will place the focus on meaningful health care reform for consumers and the vital role that professional agents and advisors should continue to play,” NAIFA President Cliff Wilson says in a statement.

Health producers are especially concerned about efforts to create a “public health insurance option” and efforts to create a health insurance purchasing program for individuals and small groups.

Current proposals would bar insurance agents from participating in the purchasing program.

The producer fly-in offers a “tremendous opportunity for the health insurance producer community to send a loud message to Congress about preserving the private delivery of health insurance and to voice opposition to the creation of a public plan that would unfairly compete against private insurance companies in the health insurance marketplace,” fly-in organizers say.

Coalition leaders say participants will tell their congressional representatives about the important role “professional health insurance advisors, agents, brokers, consultants and employee benefit specialists play in providing health care to millions of Americans.”
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CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, the affiliation of Cliff Wilson was given incorrectly in an earlier version of this article.