September 19, 2011
Contact: Steve Lyons, WEA Trust
Telephone: (608) 276-4000, Extension 6729 or (608) 220-7478 cell
Defamatory statements force WEA Trust to take legal action against Mark Belling
The WEA Trust, a Wisconsin-based private group health insurance company, today delivered a legal “cease and desist” demand to conservative talk show host Mark Belling, aired on WISN Radio, for repeatedly accusing the private company of “racketeering” by transferring its “profits” to the state teachers union, which is illegal under state and federal law.
“These are deliberate attempts to destroy a good company’s reputation,” said WEA Trust President and CEO, Mark Moody. “The accusations made against the WEA Trust on the air are not true—Mr. Belling has a responsibility to his listeners. He must state that his accusations of the WEA Trust are not true. The Trust is working with Wisconsin’s premier First Amendment law firm to demand an end to his false and defamatory public accusations.”
The WEA Trust was formed 40 years ago by the state’s largest teachers’ union in cooperation with small Wisconsin school districts to help them “pool” their health insurance, Moody noted.
“The WEA Trust is a ‘trust’ under federal labor law. It is not ‘owned’ by the union. It would be against both state and federal laws to use the Trust’s income to support the union’s political activities, as Belling has repeatedly charged—and the Trust has never done so,” said Moody.
Moody went on to add that the WEA Trust is a state-regulated, Wisconsin-based, fiscally sound, private health insurance company. The WEA Trust takes compliance with the law extremely seriously.
“Mr. Belling’s deliberate distortions don’t stop there,” Moody said. “We’re not a monopoly as he claims. We provide health insurance for roughly a third of the state’s teachers and school staff. Like our competitors, we win and lose customers all the time.”
“Belling’s accusations that the Trust was deliberately “overcharging” school districts is little more than a political attack that deliberately distorts the basic economics of our complicated industry in order to further destroy our reputation,” Moody said.
The Trust returns 93 cents out of every premium dollar back to school districts in the form of quality health care. Our seven cents of every dollar for overhead is less than half the overhead cost of many for-profit competitors.
The rapidly changing school district health insurance market has encouraged many other companies to bid for the business. And school districts are seeing health insurance costs drop in some cases, regardless of the carrier.
“But there’s no economic miracle at play here,” said Moody. “When employers, including school districts, require employees to pay more for their health insurance or reduce their benefits, it costs less for the schools.”
“The WEA Trust is demanding a retraction,” Moody said. “Mr. Belling’s statements are malicious and designed to damage our company’s reputation. He has a long record of attacks on our company, which we have on file. We have had enough.”