A couple of years ago I blogged about how fraud investigators can be key to enacting strong fraud laws.The state legislative season is heating up, so let’s revisit. We need to think of how to mobilize for action.
Lobbying legislators can be top-down and bottom-up.
Top-down involves national groups like the Coalition or insurers raising the issues with legislators. Often we testify before committees or the full chamber. That carries weight. We discuss the big picture, and how a state bill is good (or bad) for combating fraud from a larger viewpoint.
The bottom-up approach is the grassroots level. Investigators and other frontliners can take a lead role.
Investigators can wield great influence. State lawmakers listen to constituents. Local people put a local face on fraud bills. Investigators also are respected crime-fighting experts. That voice speaks convincingly to lawmakers. They may know little about a fraud bill — or the crime it combats.
A tag team is the best formula for rallying support for fraud laws: Local investigators work with national groups like the Coalition. We all bring vital strengths to the table.
State legislators usually don’t receive letters or messages about fraud issues. So when an investigator writes a letter, that could be the first time a legislator hears about the fraud bill, and why it’s good for the state.
This leads to my Rule of Five. One constituent letter raises few eyebrows in a legislator’s office. Five letters, and the legislator thinks about the issue. And 25 letters signals a groundswell of support. That can convince a legislator to support a fraud bill.
Enacting strong fraud laws has four positive goals. 1) Create an infrastructure for insurers to investigate and report scams; 2) Give fraud fighters laws and regs that are pillars for chasing down swindlers; 3) Oppose weak bills that undermine the fraud fight; and 4) Educate lawmakers about the benefits of strong fraud laws.
Together, our influence can place more fraud laws onto the books. We will educate lawmakers about how strong fraud laws benefit consumers throughout a state.
So let’s add a fifth goal for fraud laws: Empower consumers and insurers to better fight back against insurance fraud.
About the author: Howard Goldblatt is director of government affairs for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.