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Scott Marks 1 p.m., May 24
It's not a surprise to see Juan Vargas keynoting an insurance industry event; before the Democrat was elected to the state senate in 2010 he helped guide lobbying at Safeco and Liberty Mutual, and before that, while in the state Assembly, he was the industry's favorite member of that body's powerful insurance committee.
The news is that Vargas, currently running for Congress, is now doing impressions.
Vargas "gave a well-received Arnold Schwarzenegger impression, chest heaving and heavy on the former California governor’s thick Austrian accent," according to an account this week in the online Insurance Journal about an appearance Vargas made here Tuesday at the Insurance Brokers & Agents of the West annual meeting and installation of officers luncheon.
According to the item, Vargas offered some words of lobbying advice to his audience of insurance agents, warning them they might be out of a job unless they keep a close eye on Congress:
"He addressed healthcare change and healthcare insurance exchanges, and said 'they’re commoditizing healthcare.'
"He depicted healthcare exchanges as 'commoditized, mechanized and easily accessible,' geared, in other words, to forego the need for insurance agents.
"He added a warning to the audience: 'You have to make sure you’re not behind the 8-ball on this.'"
"A theme Vargas carried throughout his speech was the lack of informed decision makers at the state and national levels, particularly when it comes to [the] matter of insurance, and growing government involvement in state matters and insurance issues."
“More and more you’re finding individuals who make decisions who don’t know about insurance,” the Journal quoted Vargas as saying.
“I do think the federal government’s getting more involved. I think the government’s getting more involved in state issues.”
Incoming president Steve Shea reinforced Vargas's point about the need for lobbying, Insurance Journal reported.
“It’s going to be another year of challenges and opportunities for IBA West,” Shea reportedly said. “These folks don’t understand what we do.”
He added, “It’s all about sending letters to Congress and making yourself heard.”