Donohue Lambasts Waxman’s Requests for Insurer Information

Posted August 21, 2009 at 10:10pm

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue on Friday pushed back on the effort of two senior House Democrats to get large amounts of potentially embarrassing financial information from health insurance companies. In a Friday letter, Donohue told House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of that panel’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, that he was “deeply troubled— by lawmakers’ request for the information and asked that they withdraw it immediately.Waxman and Stupak on Monday sent letters to more than 50 health insurers asking them to hand over by early September details of their executive compensation packages, conferences and retreats they sponsored, and the profitability of their products.Donohue blasted the request as “ill-advised and economically destructive.— “No citizen — individual or corporate — should be singled out for harassment and intimidation by the government simply because they disagree with powerful committee chairmen or seek to persuade others to embrace their viewpoint,— he wrote. Waxman and Stupak’s request was the latest salvo in an ongoing attack by House Democrats on insurance companies. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told her Caucus to zero in on the industry over the August recess, and she trashed insurers as “villains— who reap “obscene profits— at the expense of Americans’ well-being. In a statement to Roll Call earlier Friday, Waxman said he expected the insurance companies to comply with the request. “The information is important because it will shed light on the business practices of the nation’s largest health insurance companies,— he said. Donohue called it an attempt to “embarrass these companies on the basis of their expenditures— for business travel and retreats. “As we struggle to come out of a devastating recession, this defies all reason and common sense.—“It is American free enterprise, including employment-rich sectors like health care and hospitality, that will create some of the jobs our citizens desperately need and lead us out of the recession,— Donohue wrote. “Please do not stand in the way of this important work by piling on added, inappropriate, and unnecessary burdens.—