A thousand insurance agents and brokers converged on Washington last week to lobby members of Congress and their staffs on health reform.

The groups that sponsored 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 started Tuesday, but most Capitol Hill meetings took place Wednesday.

Attendees were briefed early that day at a hotel near the Capitol. Briefers talked 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,” said NAIFA President Cliff Wilson in a statement before the event.

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 said.

Coalition leaders said 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.”