Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Make My Day

Make My Day.

What does NAHU and the person that uttered that famous line have in common ? Both have been around for 80 years this year. May 31st was the 80th birthday of Clint Eastwood- actor, director and advocate. I mention this because in addition to giving us acting (and directing) such movie favorites as Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino, directing Invictus and Flags of our Fathers, he is an avid advocate for businesses, recognized by various organizations for his advocacy.

As this health reform has started to shake out, we’re already seeing the shape of things to come. For those of you unaware, I was informed today that Golden Rule (a United Healthcare Company that sells individual products) is discontinuing insuring children as a standalone policy because of the provision in the law that all children must be taken irregardless of pre-existing conditions. Anyone that understands the insurance industry understands that it can be compared to a balloon…squeeze one area, and another area over-inflates…it’s called cost-shifting. We’ve seen it with insurance mandates and we’ll continue to see it as this defective law’s provisions are implemented.

More than anything, we need a legislator who has a good grasp of business and insurance principles. A background in healthcare is also helpful. Accessibility and active listening are also helpful. In the Senate race, I’ve met with Harry Reid’s office numerous times…but never with the Senator himself. By contrast, I have met with Nevada’s other Senator numerous times and even had the honor of serving on his health care roundtable this past summer. I say this for what follows.

In the race for the Republican nomination for Senator, I attempted to meet with the three (in my estimation) front runners: Sue Lowden, Danny Tarkanian and Sharon Engle. Danny was kind enough to call me back personally; I scheduled a meeting with him and health care reform leadership…it was canceled with a promise to reschedule. I’m still waiting. Sharon Engle couldn’t commit to a face-to-face, but was gracious enough to hold a 45 minute conference call with us where we were very impressed. Sue Lowden, on the other hand actually met with me a couple months back—personally for near-on two hours. Well here it is a week before the primary…and I called Sue’s office and suggested a telephone call with leadership. She wouldn’t do it…instead, she found time to personally drive to Henderson and meet with us face-to-face, where she expounded her pro-business standpoint (she helped with the Worker’s Comp issue in 1995) and her toughness as a litigator.

I know we’re not a political organization. Clint Eastwood stated, “A man needs to know his limitations”. I know my limitations…and I know what I’m good at. Some people say that our state would be better served by having a Senate Majority Leader in power. Whether that’s true or not I cannot comment on…What I CAN comment on is that the Senate Majority Leader believes that the PPACA law is the fix for our system (we know it’s not) and has been parroting rhetoric at the forums he’s held. (We all are familiar with his infamous Chamber of Commerce speech-which he repeated less than a week later !) We are an inherently non-partisan organization; however, we are faced with an imperfect law that threatens our very survival as an industry because it left out cost-containment measures needed to make health reform work. We need leaders in Washington who are willing to listen to us and act upon our input to make the best of this law. We need leaders on a national and state level who are willing to put in place cost measures not in the bill on a state level to help us contain these costs. We need leaders who are ACCESSIBLE. In a perfect world, we all would have health insurance, live in a white house with a picket fence, dog, cat and two-and-a-half kids. However, as Jon Ralston said, “that’s all well and fine on Planet Utopia, but we live in the real world”. In the “real world”, payroll has to be met, the rent has to be paid, business licenses have to be renewed. In a perfect world, I’d be driving a Lamborghini…instead I drive a fuel-efficient convertible…not that I’m complaining.

Clint Eastwood showed that you had to be a fighter and sometimes take unpopular positions, that on the surface, would could looked at as ludicrous…one that Sue Lowden did in testifying against the mammogram mandate because of the cost-shifting that it would entail; I feel her pain. After all, I testified against the autism mandate last year, which didn’t exactly sit well with my brother and his family (my nephew’s autistic). Doing what’s emotionally right doesn’t mean it’s the ‘right’ thing to do. I mean, who DOESN”T want to help autistic kids or advocate mammography ?

The point of all this is that as an industry, I need to advocate on behalf of our membership and by default, our clients who look to us for guidance. I can’t tell you who to vote for, but I can certainly pass along the information on who has our collective backs and who doesn’t.

Dan Heffley

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