'Obamacare' the focus in Lindeen vs. Skees auditor race

2012-10-03T00:00:00Z 2015-08-13T13:36:55Z 'Obamacare' the focus in Lindeen vs. Skees auditor raceBy MIKE DENNISON IR State Bureau Helena Independent Record
October 03, 2012 12:00 am  • 

In this year’s electoral battle for Montana state auditor/insurance commissioner, the race is yet another contest where the candidates are sparring over federal health-care reform, or “Obamacare.”

“The vast majority of Montanans are against Obamacare. I am anti-Obamacare,” said Republican Derek Skees, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Monica Lindeen. “Every time she comes out and says she’s for Obamacare, and (she’s) going to implement it, Montanans are going to say, `That’s horrible — who’s running against her?’”

Lindeen, a Democrat elected to the post in 2008, says this year’s race is about more than health insurance — but is happy to talk about what she’s done, or tried to do, regarding the federal health law.

The law invokes many new requirements for health insurance, and Lindeen says she’s tried to ensure that Montana retains its own regulatory authority over insurance, for the good of consumers.

Lindeen asked the 2011 Legislature to authorize the creation of a state-based Internet sales market for health insurance called an exchange, and to give the state authority to review health-insurance rate increases.

If the state doesn’t take those steps, federal health regulators will do them instead.

The Republican-led Legislature, of which Skees is a member, rejected those proposals.

“What I’ve really worked to do is make sure we maintain our state authority as the feds are implementing the Affordable Care Act,” she says. “My opponent, and others like him, said no.”

The federal health-care law has become a flash point in this race — just as it has in many statewide races this year — as Republicans try to capitalize on the unpopularity of the law in Montana.

In an IR State Bureau Poll last month, 53 percent of Montanans said they don’t support the law, while 40 percent did.

Skees, a building consultant and state representative from Whitefish, and Lindeen, a former state legislator who helped found the state’s first major Internet provider, are vying for the oddly named office of state auditor.

The auditor regulates the insurance and investment industries in Montana, and Lindeen prefers to call herself “commissioner of securities and insurance.”

In seeking re-election, Lindeen notes that her office has recovered more than $200 million for Montanans victimized by investment scams and forced insurers to pay $15 million in claims that they initially denied.

She says she’s supported every oil, gas and coal lease before the state Land Board and has pushed to expand a state program providing subsidies and tax credits for small businesses that offer health insurance for employees.

“I’m running on my record as state auditor, and all that I’ve been able to accomplish,” she says.

Lindeen also said if she’s re-elected, she’ll again ask the Legislature to give her office the power to review health-insurance rate increases. If the state has that authority, it can negotiate down increases deemed “unreasonable,” she said.

Skees said he’s the right person for the job because he has no connection to the insurance or securities industry, and therefore can be a strong consumer advocate. He also says he wants to unleash more competition by getting rid of unnecessary regulations and insurance mandates.

But, most of all, Skees said he’ll do everything he can to fight “Obamacare,” and that if it’s not repealed, he’ll drive hard bargains with the feds on implementation and will push for other reforms like selling health insurance across state lines and limiting medical liability.

He said the 2011 Legislature was right to reject the health-insurance exchange, because now the feds are scrambling to set one up in Montana, and will be more willing to bargain with the state on what the exchange looks like in 2014.

“We should negotiate from a position of strength, which is what we did,” he says. “Thirty states are still fighting (the law). … I’ll be a voice nationally to rally folks to fight the federal government.”

Lindeen says Skees “doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” that the feds are already working on the exchange, and that it must meet certain requirements that can’t be compromised away.

“You can’t just slam the door and think that you’ll have a position to bargain from,” she says.

Copyright 2016 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(16) Comments

  1. FlamingLiberal1
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    FlamingLiberal1 - October 03, 2012 4:01 pm
    Interesting and sad that people seem to support most of the things the bill does but have bought into the "Obamacare" hatchet job. It would be funny if it wasn't so upsetting.
  2. bigskyfan
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    bigskyfan - October 03, 2012 2:23 pm
    MichaelS;
    You just cut/pasted a hoax that originated in 2009 about HB3200.
    A little research goes a long way.
    Your "list" has been debunked at least twice:
    http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/kithil.asp
    http://www.factcheck.org/2009/08/twenty-six-lies-about-hr-3200
    By the way, the real bill that was passed is HR 3590:
    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr3590enr/pdf/BILLS-111hr3590enr.pdf
  3. wonkerbean
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    wonkerbean - October 03, 2012 12:53 pm
    Many Montanans are against Obamacare but are for not allowing insurance companies to discriminate against pre-existing conditions, for allowing parents to keep their kids on their insurance until they are 26 years old, not allowing insurance companies to put a 'cap' on benefits, etc. The right wing wackos are all about big corporate profits that are challenged by Obamacare.
  4. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - October 03, 2012 12:46 pm
    Yea, you could say its a state issue and it could be argued that judges don't have to rule military retirement as an asset which leads to losing retirement for the rest of your life. The realtiy is, not one judge anywhere has ever not made the ruling to consider the retirement as an asset. Prior to about 20 years ago it wasn't much of an issue among women in the military few served and those that did, didn't continue onto retirement. Now however, that has changed as there are more combat related positions for women and many do make the military a career. As one example, woman military got divorced from her husband essentially due to domestic violence. She got the kids of course but as this other guy didn't have a job, not only is he not paying alimony, he gets 50% of her retirement.
  5. Rj506
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    Rj506 - October 03, 2012 12:10 pm
    Has anyone ever considered that we as consumers and people of our country play a huge role in the ever increasing insurance premiums? Everyday, juries are awarding insane amounts of money for medical malpractice lawsuits. (I'm not talking justified lawsuits) A doctors malpractice insurance rates go up, medical service charges increase, we pay more, insurance companies pay more out. We pay higher premiums in the end.
    A few months back I had to go to a local urgent care. My insurance deductible had not yet been met, so I paid for the visit when I left in full. Assuming the office had submitted this to my insurance. I thought it was a done deal. After a couple of months never received anything back from my insurance company for an explanation of benefits, I called them, they never received a claim. Finally had theDr. office send it in and a month later, I got a new bill from the doctors office. They had accidentally charged me the uninsured rate and now I owed another $20 because I have health insurance and they were very sorry for the inconvenience. That is part of what is wrong with the entire picture!
    The problem needs to be fixed from the bottom up.
    Derek Skees lacks the intelligence or the tact to work with insurance companies to get the best possible insurance for people of our State. Skooter hit it on the nose when he stated that Skees has his own personal agenda and as a legislator he did fail us miserably. Personally, my belief is that he wants to turn this state and it's people into his own little civil war fantasy. I'll say it again, Skees is not right for Montana.

  6. skooter
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    skooter - October 03, 2012 12:03 pm
    That's easy Dietz...things are constitutional when they are deemed so by the body of justice set forth to be the judge on constitutionality. And Congress has the ability to write law to further define that constitution as they were mandated.

    And for USFSPA - I don't know what to tell you here really. It's a federal and a state issue as it's up to the state to decide if they honor your retired pay as a marital asset, and then the federal stat allows that if so. I gotta tell you...it's not unlike my divorce where my wife got retirement income that was created even before we were married. And from what I have heard the same can be done with a non-miliatry pension in most states. While I know it is personal, and may or not be fair depending on your point of view (what I mean is that you feel it's unfair but your ex probably thinks it is fair) it doesn't seem that beyond the pale. I mean...men usually get hosed in divorces except in rare cases.
  7. MichaelS
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    MichaelS - October 03, 2012 11:26 am
    ms. lindeen if for ObamaCare or "The Care Bill HB 3200" explain this to America. These are direct quotes from the HB 3200
    Page 50 Section 152: The bill will provide insurance to all non-U.S. Residents, even if they are here illegally.

    Page 241 and 253: Doctors will all be paid the same regardless of specialty, and the government will set all doctors' fees.

    Page 272, Section 1145: Cancer hospitals will ration care according to the patient's age.

    Page 425, line 4-12: The government mandates advance-care planning consultations. Those on Social Securty will be required to attend an "end of life planning" seminar every five years.

    Page 429, line 13-25: The government will specify which doctors can write an end-of-life order.

    The grand section is: At age 76 when you most need it, your are not eligible for any cancer treatment !!

    Oh, lets not forget that this bill will not apply to members of Congress, as members of Congress are already exempt from the Social Security System.

    Now Ms. Lindeen explain to us why you support ObamaCare as the voters are waiting. And by the way these sections noted are just the "tip of the iceberg". Only the worst type of a socialists could support HB 3200.
  8. shortie
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    shortie - October 03, 2012 10:28 am
    Reading all the mail theres one thing every knows, to change something or try to make it better[health care, medicare, wellfare] no,no don't touch it. Only thing to do is raise taxes and that'll fix it, thats the mind set liberal people!!!!
  9. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - October 03, 2012 10:11 am
    What is or is not consitutional these days Skooter? Remember that law I was telling you about, the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act? In the years prior to that law, every court, including Supreme courts, ruled that taking any percentage of a retired military persons pay for an ex spouse for the rest of their life was unconstitutional. Didn't stop Congress from passing the law anyway....
  10. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - October 03, 2012 10:08 am
    I personnally am not against a health care bill that makes sense. This one doesn't make sense, least wise the "affordable" verbiage. There is nothing affordable about it. Insurance companies have once again raised rates and are more free to do so since its manditory. There is nothing I read that "caps" insurance rates to the normal citizen. Further, lack of having the insurance gets you a sizable fine. Great to help reduce the deficit I suppose, and considering the fine is far less then current insurance rates but here again, what is "affordable" with the bill as written? Companies have already stated for them to comply with the law (offer insurance) they will have to cut back on jobs. That isn't helping the job market. I am also wondering where the competition among insurance companies is. I am sure many of you read that Blue Cross just got bought out and my guess, many others will get bought out which means, so much for "shopping around" for health insurance.
  11. skooter
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    skooter - October 03, 2012 8:57 am
    Oh boy. Skees is so crackpot he gives cracked-pots a bad reputation.

    This is the far right, super fringe political camp that thrives in Montana for short durations. This guys agenda basically isn't anybody's agenda but his own. An angry fellow with limited experience who wants to take over any part of the power class he can to remake Montana in his severely limited vision. We saw what a failure this was over the last couple of years as the teabag faithful cajoled their way into power only to fail miserably as legislators for the rest of us. Every bill was a morality bills against women's rights, or something to protect their tiny fiefdoms....these were people legislating and leading for Montana but only for themselves and the handful of folks in Whitefish egging them on.

    He's basing his campaign on a nullification vote that's been proven constitutional by SCOTUS, would help Montana and it's overwhelming uncovered ranks and will save money over traditional health care options in the long run.

    Fringier than an old dog's blanket...and probably dangerous for Montana.
  12. steeline
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    steeline - October 03, 2012 8:53 am
    A bunch of "off the wall" Obama talk. Lindeen's support for Obama's "affordable care" is nothing more than a tax increase and a job killer. There are better ways to achieve affordable health care and Lindeen don't have the authority,creativity or desire to explore other options. She is a died in the wool liberal power broker Democrat. Montana can do better and will with Derek Skees as State Auditor. We have to restore and save the Republic of America..
  13. GreenGirl02
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    GreenGirl02 - October 03, 2012 8:51 am
    I couldn't agree with you more, Rj506! You nailed it.
  14. shortie
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    shortie - October 03, 2012 7:53 am
    The people can see what this health care will do to the state of montana and the middle-class. Mrs. Lindeen you better be thinking of your-self and the people of montana instead of the party. You know down in your heart this health care is going to be a costly thing for every one. One good example: the president said it would lower health care insurance by $2500 ayear for each tax payer, now the fine tuning, this will cost each tax payer $2000 ayear. The independent budget folks of washington found this. Now we know whats really in this bill after the fog clears!!!!!
  15. Sgravel
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    Sgravel - October 03, 2012 6:36 am
    Another politician at the local level who thinks he is running for president..........
  16. Rj506
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    Rj506 - October 03, 2012 6:35 am
    The thought of Derek Skees as State Auditor is scary. His only priority is the repeal of Affordable Health Care. Lindeen's office has done a fine job of regulating the insurance and securities industries for Montana. Victims of both insurance and securities fraud have been made right over the years. He said himself he has no connection to insurance or securities. My interpretation from Derek Skees comments is that he wants to deregulate insurance. We all know how well the deregulation of Montana Power affected us. Skees is not the right choice for Montana.

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