Community Voices features opinion pieces from a wide variety of authors and perspectives. (Submission Guidelines)

Missed opportunity on bipartisan insurance-fraud legislation?

If you’ve ever had a fender bender, you’ve probably received stacks of unsolicited offers of assistance with promises that seem too good to be true. They are.

Unless some semblance of reason prevails in the next two weeks, the 2014 legislative session will finish with an incredible paradox. DFL legislators rammed through some of the most partisan, and I think we’ll find damaging, pieces of legislation in a long, long time. Yet this Legislature will have failed to pass into law a truly significant reform that has broad bipartisan and geographically diverse support.  

Rep. Tim Sanders

The bipartisan issue we can still take care of is getting at the root of insurance fraud in Minnesota. Our state has become a magnet for those seeking to game the system as it relates to insurance. It has been shown that Minnesota families would save over $1,400 every year by rooting out insurance fraud.  

Every Minnesotan probably knows exactly what I’m writing about. If you’ve ever had a fender bender, you’ve probably received stacks of unsolicited offers of assistance with promises that seem too good to be true. They are. If you’ve ever had storm damage in your neighborhood, you’ve probably seen the door-to-door “salesmen” selling you an unbelievable deal to replace your roof or siding. Don’t believe it.  

Families could do a lot with $1,400

Think about what the average family could do with that $1,400 estimated savings. Families might be able to afford part of the increases in health-care premiums and deductibles. They might have some relief from the tax hikes instituted during this biennium. Maybe some families will donate their savings to help pay for the palatial, $90 million legislative office building being constructed for our part-time Legislature. With the brunt of the surplus now being spent, setting new floors that future legislators are going to be forced to deal with, the savings for families could provide some relief for the inevitable future DFL attempts at broad tax increases to continue irresponsible and wasteful spending.  

We have a bill [H.F. 3073] that was introduced to us earlier this year with a wide range of support that should have made all Minnesota voters proud. The insurance fraud legislation introduced was meant to get a handle on accident solicitations, provide some common-sense civil penalties for prosecutors, and ensure more robust information sharing. It was Senate and House, Democrat and Republican, rural and urban.  

If these common-sense reforms were allowed a straight-up vote in either the House or Senate, this bill would have passed with overwhelming majorities. Juxtapose that with Obamacare/MNSure, which passed without a single vote from Republicans and is now a law that doesn’t work for Minnesota.

Citizens must weight in with House members

I believe DFL leadership in the Senate is prepared to “let” this bill [S.F. 2372] get a fair vote on the floor. If they do, I applaud them and mark my words that bill will pass by an overwhelming bipartisan vote. The House is another matter. Trial lawyers have overwhelming control the House DFL agenda. It is up to the citizens to weigh in with members of the House DFL Caucus and tell them that $1,400 is not chump change to their families.

We have simple steps at our disposal to make some of these fixes around accident solicitation and the ability of prosecutors to impose civil penalties around the pervasive issue of insurance fraud.  

With so much partisanship in the political process, my hope is that we can make real progress on a bill like this that has such broad, bipartisan support. Citizens watching the end of this legislative session will learn all they need to know if Democrats stand up for trial lawyers, who have become the ATMs  for their campaigns, or if they’ll stand up for Minnesotans.

Rep. Tim Sanders of Blaine, a Republican, is the minority whip and represents District 37-B in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, email Susan Albright at salbright@minnpost.com.)

Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 05/09/2014 - 05:47 pm.

    Ugh

    I am always skeptical about someone describing common sense reforms, without actually explaining what the common sense reforms are. And in reading the bills, I find that some of the provisions – like restricting public information – aren’t common sense at all.

    I also seriously doubt that insurance fraud is costing Minnesotans $1,400 per year. Also missing from this piece is any citation or support for that figure.

    Any credibility Rep. Sanders might have had went away when he described MNSure as “a law that doesn’t work for Minnesota.” In the real world, it actually is working pretty well, but Sanders is too partisan and dishonest to acknowledge that.

    In any event, props to the legislature tfor seeing through the dishonest arguments of Sanders and his ilk, and rejecting this steaming pile of non-common sense reform legislation.

  2. Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 05/10/2014 - 02:41 am.

    Prove It!

    To say that “It has been shown that Minnesota families would save over $1,400 every year by rooting out insurance fraud” begs for a source and an explanation -neither of which are provided because the claim cannot stand up to scrutiny.

    And to be sure, even if this bill was 100% successful at “getting at the root of insurance fraud” in Minnesota, there is no chance that Minnesota households would save $1,400 a year in premium for their auto and household insurance.

  3. Submitted by Amy Farland on 05/10/2014 - 07:13 am.

    Insurance Fraud

    The ‘fraud’ most consumers run into regarding insurance is the failure of insurance companies to live up to their end of the bargain and pay on legitimately filed claims according to the coverage in the policy….

  4. Submitted by Jim Lavoie on 05/10/2014 - 07:17 am.

    baloney

    I practice in this area and have for 25 years. The incidence of fraudulent claims is miniscule. If the legislature really wanted to do something about the No-Fault system that would help the consumer, it should reform the medical examination procedure. Right now insurance companies send their insureds to a doctor from a small cadre of practitioners who make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year doing exams for insurers and write reports that are so fungible they could easily just change the names of the examinee and submit them. Then the company terminates the benefits the insured has bought and paid for. In my opinion, the so called independent medical examination is the single largest and most damaging insurance fraud practice in Minnesota and it’s done by the companies, not by the insureds. If the legislature ever investigated that they would uncover a real rat’s nest. If insurers had to use doctors who truly were independent and selected at random from a list of all practitioners in the relevant specialty, the examination would be more reliable and the insured would get a fair shake. Now the system is totally rigged.

  5. Submitted by Brian Scholin on 05/10/2014 - 07:30 am.

    Bipartisan?

    If the wording of this article illustrates Mr. Sanders’s idea of “bipartisan”, is it any wonder he is having trouble getting this through the legislature?

  6. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 05/12/2014 - 09:16 am.

    Ins Fraud

    I agree with Jim Lavoi. I was tail ended by had a minor back injury. The insurance company sent me to see this doctor in Richfield. When I got there the office was locked and nobody there. There was a note on the door to please wait for the doctor. He arrived and we went into this office that was made to look like a doctors office, except there was no phone, no nurses and no medical equipment. He did about a 5 minute exam on me, ask me a few questions and sent me on my way.

  7. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 05/12/2014 - 10:10 am.

    A question for Rep. Sanders

    Does passage of your bill then mandate each insurer cut a check to every insured for $1,400? Because that’s the only way the families you’re so concerned about are going to see that money. Only a mouthpiece for the insurance industry would just blindly assume the companies would pass-through all those savings. And I’m absolutely sure you’re not a mouth piece for the insurance industry…..right?

  8. Submitted by Peter Mikkalson on 05/13/2014 - 10:32 am.

    RE: Insurance reform cuts both ways…

    As demonstrated in the other comments to this piece, there’s ample opportunity to eliminate waste and be certain that insureds get what they paid for. The dearth of statistical backup to this piece rendered it nothing more than a PR piece for an already unsympathetic lobby. Another example of your legislature working for YOU!

Leave a Reply