Healthcare Reform

“The House passed a bill today that includes a government-run health insurance plan (public option) that would unfairly compete with the private insurance marketplace, limit consumer choice and increase the taxpayer burden.”

—Charles Symington, senior vice president of government affairs for the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, expressing the displeasure of IIABA leaders over the healthcare reform bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The group is particularly opposed to the public option included in the bill. But it also has trouble with the tax hikes, a requirement that small businesses offer insurance or pay a penalty, and a grant program to non-profits so they can provide health insurance counseling.

Rate Trends

“Rate trends are encouraging across our portfolio. However, the recession has reduced exposures, putting downward pressure on premium volume.”

—Thomas F. Motamed, chairman and chief executive officer of CNA Financial Corp., explaining he was pleased with the performance of CNA’s specialty lines segment and will look to improve profitability in the standard lines segment. CNA Financial Corp.’s third quarter 2009 results included net operating income of $331 million and net income of $263 million along with a combined ratio for property/casualty operations of 101 percent.

Too Big

“We have to find a way of limiting firms from becoming too big to fail so they don’t capture the government.”

—Rep. Paul Kanjorski, chairman of the financial services subcommittee on capital markets, who said the government should have the authority to break up or reconstruct financial firms before they become “too big to fail.” He would introduce measure to prevent firms from becoming a threat to the wider economy.

Conspiracy Allegations

“They’re in a conspiracy, and we didn’t get as much money as we wanted.”

—Gladstone Jones, attorney for plaintiffs in a case against Dell Inc. alleging unfair competition and conspiracy claims in a lawsuit involving New Orleans’ problematic crime camera surveillance program. A jury found Dell liable for $12.8 million but plaintiffs Southern Electronics Supply Inc. and Active Solutions LLC had sought $3.6 billion in punitive damages from Dell. The jury rejected those claims, as well as allegations their camera system was ripped off by former city technology chief Greg Meffert and others. Gladstone said no one was completely happy with the verdict. The plaintiffs had alleged Meffert and others tied to city government plotted with Dell to steal the surveillance system they’d developed. They claimed the market —particularly in a post-9/11 world —could be worth millions, if not billions, of dollars. AP