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Associated Press, Published December 05 2009

Blue Cross health care letter may prompt legislative response

BISMARCK – A North Dakota state senator says recent Blue Cross Blue Shield opposition to some aspects of health care reform may prompt a response in the Legislature.

Bismarck Sen. Tracy Potter and Fargo Democratic Sens. Tom Fiebiger and Tim Mathern objected to a Blue Cross letter to policyholders about federal health care reform proposals. Fiebiger and Mathern met with company officials Friday.

The letter opposed any so-called “public option” for health insurance that would be run by the federal government. It said the federal health care package will force private insurance rates to rise.

The senators asked Blue Cross about the cost of the mailing. Blues spokeswoman Denise Kolpack says it cost almost $22,400 for almost 216,000 letters. She says the cost was kept down because for most customers, the material was included in a regular required mailing.

Potter says the senators will consider drafting new disclosure rules for the Fargo health insurer.

Blue Cross Blue Shield has been criticized for misspending money on luxury trips for salespeople and severance packages for executives.

Potter says many policyholders considered the mailing a waste of money, but the company says it’s gotten some compliments about it.

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