Lawmakers question Blue Cross calls

November 24, 2009 1:10:03 PM PST
North Carolina based insurance giant Blue Cross and Blue Shield has been vocal in its opposition to some parts of President Obama's health insurance reform proposals. Now, some state lawmakers are questioning how it's getting out its message.

Twenty state legislators on Tuesday asked Attorney General Roy Cooper and Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin to examine automated phone calls and mailers from the company.

The material asked citizens to contact Sen. Kay Hagan to ask that she oppose the creation of a government-run health insurance plan that would compete with private plans.

The state lawmakers think the insurer violated rules on automated calls and questions Blue Cross' advocacy, given it had a tax-preferred status for decades.

"We are concerned that BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina has violated the intent of the Do Not Call Registry by using the exemption requiring a prior business relationship to engage in political advocacy," read a letter from the lawmakers. "These robo-calls had nothing to do with providing care to patients, but were instead used to advocate a specific political stance. While we are strongly committed to the first amendment, we do not believe that policy holders intended for their relationship with blue cross to be used in this manner."

A Blue Cross spokesman responded to the letter Tuesday afternoon.

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said from the beginning we believe it's important that North Carolinians understand the impact that a government-run health plan and increased taxes could have on their health care costs and choice. That's why we sent out this information. We believe we have a right to be involved in the debate," wrote Lew Borman in a statement. "We received an inquiry from the Attorney General's office and we are fully cooperating."

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