Yesterday, we noted that State Sen. Morgan Carroll had been used her Facebook page to troll for complaints about Pinnacol’s claims processing. That prompted the following Facebook exchange between Sen. Carroll and a Colorado resident (forwarded to me by the resident, who wishes to remain anonymous):
Resident: Today at 5:17am
I am dismayed at your continued attempt to destroy a valuable resource for Colorado. Your current witchhunt to find negative stories to paint Pinnacol in a negative light is nothing but a blatant political stunt and is clearly seen as such. The money accumulated as reserves of Pinnacol were paid into it for an EXPLICIT reason and not a simply pile of cash for you to spend on whatever causes you deem worthy.
Morgan Carroll: Today at 6:51am
This committee is a fact-finding committee. Your loyalty to this political subdivision of the State of Colorado is laudable and I am sure they appreciate it.
Resident: Today at 7:06am
What is the reason or a need for such “fact finding” exercise at this juncture?
Morgan Carroll: Today at 7:10am
It’s about about 15 years since the legislature that created this structure has reviewed it. Their surpluses (very high compared to national) have raised the question for some as to whether (a) policyolders (businesses) are being over-charged; or (b) whether claims to injured workers are underpaid. Neither or both may be the case. We don’t know yet. Likewise, they want us to consider privatizing them. That would require evidence and an act of the legislature to do.
Color me unpersuaded. Aside from the snide response to somewhat aggressive questioning, it’s simply not credible that someone would use a social networking site – designed for self-selection of people with mostly consonant views – to find a diverse set of opinions about anything. Especially when her official website, which would probably draw a broader range of readership, lacks any such appeal.
The senator makes a point of referring to Pinnacol as a “political subdivision,” which it surely is. That permits the state to determinte by statute the disposition of its assets. But the bill itself changes the law to permit that seizure. And it basically lies in its preamble, saying, “…clarigying the laws governing Pinnacol Assurance’s funds.” It doesn’t so much “claify” as ‘turn inside out.” It eliminates its operation as a mutual insurance company, and specifically transfers control over the company’s assets to the state. Here’s the relevant section as it reads now:
The moneys in the Pinnacol Assurance fund shall be continuously available for the purposes of this article and shall not be transferred to or revert to the general fund of the state at the end of any fiscal year. All revenues, moneys, and assets of Pinnacol Assurance belong solely to Pinnacol Assurance. The state of Colorado has no claim to nor any interest in such revenues, moneys, and assets and shall not borrow, appropriate, or direct payments from such revenues, moneys, and assets for any purpose.
Seems clear enough. The reserve fund and any profits belong to the company, not to the state. The legislation would have repealed that section in its entirely.
So let’s be clear here: the bill that Sen Morgan Carroll, supposedly neutral leader of a “fact-finding” committee, voted for, removes the fiscal independence of Pinnacol, seizes $500,000,000 of surplus premiums paid into that fund specifically to provide coverage, says nothing about reviewing anything that the interim committee is tasked to explore.
“Fact-finding” committees frequently find whatever facts they set out looking for. There email exchange, in tenor and content, make it pretty clear what facts Sen. Carroll has in mind to uncover.