Aug. 21, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Protesters Mobilize as Insurers Put on the Ritz

Jennings confirmed that he decided not to give his planned talk at the insurance conference because of the protest.

“I would never cross a picket line,” Jennings said. But the health care consultant said that, ironically, the talk he was planning was to be critical of the health insurance industry.

Jennings provided an e-mail that he sent to Kirsch on Monday detailing his criticisms of the insurance industry. “I was going to use my time to tell health insurance reps why the underwriting, pricing, and advocacy practices of far too many health plans AND their inconsistent rhetoric — bordering on hypocrisy — (e.g., they say they are for reform, but their members are reportedly underwriting camouflaged advertisement attacks; they say they want more aggressive cost containment as they oppose reducing over-payments to MA plans) — are not only indefensible, it undermines whatever credibility they have to be ‘constructive players,’” Jennings wrote.

But Jennings also made clear in the e-mail to Kirsch that he didn’t condone the protests and said, “Do not make me part of the story.”

“It is important for you to know that I am not a fan of disrupting meetings that provide exposure to much needed alternative views,” Jennings added in the e-mail.

The two-day conference, called the 2010 National Policy Forum, includes a series of speakers on issues with titles such as “Health Reform: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Headed?” “Reducing the Growth Rate of Health Care Costs” and “Health Care Reform: What Role Does the Media Play?”

The speakers include academics, think-tank staffers, corporate executives, journalists and federal officials, according to an itinerary posted on the conference Web site.

The Web site notes that registration for the conference is now closed.

It also states that 39 percent of the conference participants are health insurance plan executives, while 30 percent are policy and research professionals and 13 percent are involved in business products and operations.

According to the Web site, conference participants are offered group rates at the Ritz-Carlton for $295 a night plus tax but can also stay at several other hotels in the area.

The Web site lists a number of “chairman level” sponsors for the conference including drug companies Merck and Eli Lilly and health care management, research and technology companies Ingenix, McKesson, TriZetto, CH Mack, Connecture, First Recovery Group and Consult a Doctor.

Tuesday's planned protest is part of a series of activities by HCAN and other groups that continues on Wednesday when people who have had negative experiences with health insurance companies will meet with lawmakers.

HCAN has also unveiled new television ads and Web videos featuring Chris Shiflett of the rock band Foo Fighters.

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