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Hamm Handed Handling PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chet   
Monday, 02 March 2009 08:10

GEAHRemember what a hero North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm was when -- just a few months before the 2008 election -- Hamm denied a rate increase request by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBS)?  Remember what Hamm said about the requested rate increase?

“Blue Cross Blue Shield did not substantiate this rate increase request, misled the Insurance Department concerning payments to health care providers, and stonewalled the department when it sought information. As a result, I denied this request,” Commissioner Adam Hamm said in a statement Friday.

AdamHamm.com (copied and pasted from an AP story)

Oops.  Turns out someone was misleading someone, but it wasn't Blue Cross Blue Shield doing the misleading and it wasn't Adam Hamm being misled.

A decision came out last week from an Administrative Law Judge asked by BCBS to review Hamm's work.  It appears Adam Hamm was the one doing the misleading.  Here's part of the decision:

In sum, (a) BCBSND established that the rate requested was in compliance with N.D.C.C. § 26.1-30-19 in that the projected (and justified) loss ratio is greatly in excess of the 55% statutory and regulatory minimum and benefits provided would not be unreasonable in relation to the premium charge at the requested increased level, and the Department did not rebut the same; (b) the Commissioner did not base his decision to deny the rate request on actuarially sound principles and practices, and the decision not to allow any rate increase was without substantial justification; and (c) BCBSND's Bank Depositor filing was received May 2, 2008, and the Commissioner did not provide notice of an extension in writing within sixty days after the filing, thus BCBSND was entitled to implement the requested rate increase on its Bank Depositor line of business as of July 1, 2008.

The ALJ's Decision (emphasis added)

Notice that?  Part (c)?  He missed a deadline.  Does anybody wonder why he wanted this to get pushed closer to November?  It wouldn't be because he wanted to hold a media event right before the election, would it?  He wasn't trying to manipulate the media AND the voters, was he?  This almost looks like the sort of thing that would be considered malpractice if Hamm had been on the right side of this issue and had been working in the private sector.  It appears he missed a deadline and it could have cost his clients -- us -- quite a bit, had he not been completely in the wrong.  In some twisted way, Hamm is lucky his denial of the rate inrease was unsupported by facts, evidence, logic or the law. 

Listen...  Nobody wants an Insurance Commissioner who rubber stamps rate increases for monopolistic (or nearly monopolistic) insurance companies.  That's the last thing I'd ever want, and it's not what this is about.  What this is about is an insurance commissioner who appears to have used his position as an elected insurance regulator to misrepresent the facts to the voters in an effort to garner political favor when his actions are completely unjustified.  That's what this looks like. 

Adam Hamm played North Dakota's voters for a bunch of suckers.  Many North Dakota voters fell for it.  That same bunch won't likely have the long-term memory to hold Hamm accountable next time he's up for election.  Maybe some of us will.

North Dakota deserves better.

Comments (9)add comment

Leslie said:

Hamm Misled Voters
I voted for Hamm because he was going to be tough on Blue Cross. However, I feel betrayed as this looks nothing more than just another political stunt. Not only does it appear Adam Hamm had no basis to deny the claim (other than to win an election) he is now offering them a 14% increase!?
March 03, 2009
Votes: +2

iwofndadvocates.com/blog said:

Sounds like an odd way to buy an election. Like it has been proven over, and over corruption is a way of life here for this state. It will even show in the Gov. choice for the new ICEO. I would say there would be a connection to this person, and donations to Hoeven's campaign. The actions of officials in this state have shown over and over that they favor those whom donate to them, or work some other profitable issue out. (Say BCBC rate raise)

I am so mad at USA Today for writing the article about North Dakota being considered the most corrupt state…..no I am not mad that they claim that….mad that USA Today did not do some investigative reporting to show their claim is right.
March 03, 2009
Votes: +0

Chet said:

Does anybody else here wonder how much involvement Adam Hamm had in leaking or feeding the Grand Cayman Islands story to the media?

Did you notice I don't say I wonder "whether" he was involved?
March 05, 2009
Votes: +0

LJ said:

Big surprise
Hamm also pointed out that the CEO is getting a $664,000 pay package. Maybe Hamm should pay a visit to Unhjem's office and get a look at the very expensive decor.
March 05, 2009
Votes: +0

Needledink said:

Clarence, if I only understood this, I'd poke holes in it like all your other opinions. Also, off subject, has the DNC issued talking points encouraging the use of the word "progressive" as an attempt to replace "liberal"? I'm noticing a trend at language recapture.
March 08, 2009 | url
Votes: +0

Chet said:

Good for the goose
After twenty years of watching you guys play word games, a couple of our guys finally caught on. It must be frustrating for you.
March 08, 2009
Votes: +0

Needledink said:

Not Frustrated
Not frustrated at all really. I am surprised it took them 20 years to figure it out. Can't wait for the same people to put this keen intellect towards something as simple as rejiggering our health care system. Go in for a tooth ache, get a colostomy bag. It'll be great.

Anyway, is Clarence OK, or should I keep trying?

I know this - I sure need to get up to speed as I have no idea what is being covered here. Of course, the ND stuff is too clubby for an outsider like me, but I should be able to get a nice debate going on the national items.

Is it OK that I'm commenting here? If never done this before and feel like my Grandma when she used a mouse/PC for the first time. She kept waving it in the air.

Good to see you.
March 08, 2009 | url
Votes: +0

Clarence said:

Yes and no
It is and it isn't okay that you're commenting here. It is okay because pretty much anybody can comment. It isn't because we do try to have a rule here that says comments are supposed to relate to the subject matter of the original blog post. You probably noticed the rule -- in offensively large font and bold -- on the "about" page that says this. I'd really prefer that posts relate to something in the original post. Yours doesn't. But I'll cut you some slack since you've been out of the country for a while.

There's a reason for the rule, by the way. These comments would get really hard to follow if people just all of a sudden started commenting about THEIR favorite topic in every single blog post. If you comment about some random national or international issue and then the next guy comments about his pet issue, and the next comments on some other random issue, eventually nobody knows what any of it is about and nobody cares to read any of it.

Also, I've tried to focus as much as I can on local North Dakota issues. Sometimes the national issues impact North Dakota issues so much that I kind of feel like I have to blog on them. Adam blogs on national stuff way more than I do (and I thank him for that).

The reason I try to blog on local issues is that there are 10,000,000 bloggers in the world who have opinions on national and international political issues. There are really only a couple blogs that try hard to focus most of their attention on North Dakota issues. I don't care to enter the fray of the national bloggers. I'm just not interested in that. I'm doing just fine as a local blogger.

I've tried "open threads" before to let people comment on whatever they wanted to comment on, but this is North Dakota. I've learned people here don't do much of that. And I'm fine with that. If you've got something you'd like to talk about, shoot me a note and I'll fire off an open thread for you. You have my e-mail address.
March 08, 2009
Votes: +0

steve C. said:

Makes you wonder
If BSBC was allowing all the extravagant trips and perks over 18 years as the tribune reported, where were the insurance commissioners, (Poolman, Hamm) at that time. If an industry is regulated, wouldn't an audit be the normal process, any time they ask for a rate increase, given the fact they have been asking for double digit increases. Same goes for MDU, are they being audited when they ask for their increases. The Insurance Commissioners and the PSC are dropping the ball big time at the consumers expense. It is not a big shocker that BSBC got away with years of perks, all the while crying they are losing money. Hold the elected officials accountable.
March 11, 2009
Votes: +1

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