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Speakers To Agents: Talk!

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WASHINGTON BUREAU — Health producers have an obligation to tell lawmakers about the vital role they play in delivering health care, and about the need for health reform legislation to preserve that role.

Speakers delivered that message here Wednesday as more than 1,000 agents came here for a “fly-in.”

“You need to tell people what you do,” said Diane Boyle, executive vice president of the Association of Health Insurance Advisors unit of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va. “If all you do is take orders, then you can be replaced by an 800 number. But you know that you do more than that.”

Boyle spoke at a breakfast where agents were briefed on how they should approach meetings with individual members of Congress.

Boyle said health insurance agents and brokers will be “needed more than ever” in a reformed health care delivery system “to serve as a coordinator and advocate” for consumers.

“You must tell your congressmen that you are representing your clients,” Janet Trautwein, chief executive officer of the National Association of Health Underwriters, Arlington, Va., told attendees. “You are the experts. You know what works and what doesn’t work.”

Joel Wood, senior vice president of government affairs at the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, Alexandria, Va., said, “We are worried that reform legislation could have the intended or unintended effect of undermining the employer-provided and group health insurance marketplace.”

If one of the current versions of the health bill became law, that consequence would occur, Wood said.

But “we are a long way from final action,” Wood said. “Your presence here is at an exciting and necessary time; and every meeting held today is worthwhile.”


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