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CHRISTIAN BROTHERHOOD NEWSLETTER FILES PETITION FOR APPEAL FROM INSURANCE DEPARTMENT'S ORDER

 BARBERTON, Ohio, June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The Christian Brotherhood Newsletter filed its Petition for Appeal yesterday from the cease and desist order of Maryland's Associate Deputy Commissioner of Insurance, Thomas P. Raimondi, which said the Newsletter was illegally encouraging Christians to give money to other Christians to help pay for their financial bills arising out of medical emergencies.
 Although no complaint had ever been filed against the Christian Brotherhood Newsletter by a subscriber in its entire 12-year history, the Maryland State Commissioner of Insurance began action against the Newsletter in January of 1993. A hearing was held March 10-11, 1993, where the Newsletter produced evidence that the Newsletter operation was an expression of its subscribers' religious beliefs and merely a means of bringing people together to help each other in times of medical expense crisis. The Christian Brotherhood Newsletter is a publication correlating church efforts across the United States to help Christians who have qualifying medical expenses. The Newsletter lists medical expenses each month and allows other subscribers to send directly to the subscriber in need on a voluntary basis.
 The Newsletter accused the associate deputy commissioner in its Petition for Appeal of improperly refusing to step down from being the hearing examiner in its case after already being involved in the prosecutorial roles of investigation, discovery and negotiation before any of the Newsletter's evidence had been presented. The Newsletter's Vice President, John Hawthorn, stated that, in the Newsletter's view, the associate deputy commissioner had prejudiced himself in the matter by issuing a letter to the Newsletter in December 1992 stating that the Newsletter was conducting the business of insurance and urging it to concede. Hawthorn said that the Newsletter's general counsel, J. Michael Sharman, had filed a motion to disqualify Raimondi from acting as the hearing examiner in the case due to his lack of objectivity, but the motion was heard and decided by Raimondi himself, and he refused to do so. "How is it possible for a judge to make a fair and impartial decision based on the facts presented if he has already stated his position on the matter in question before he's ever heard our evidence or before the hearing ever convenes?" Hawthorn said. "It's obvious that all of the witnesses the Newsletter presented at the hearing regarding its nature as a religious ministry were disregarded by Raimondi from the first moment of the hearing to the last sentence of his decision."
 According to the Newsletter, at stake in the decision is the Newsletter's ability to function as a ministry, and not be regulated as a program of insurance, with its requirement of government approval at each stage of operation. Newsletter founder and President Bruce Hawthorn said that they are simply "helping Christians help each other, if they choose to do so. There are no guarantees or assurances that your medical bills will be paid. A subscriber's medical bills remain their responsibility even though we publish the need. We are only a clearing house of information. The 'risk,' to use the term insurance companies do, remains with the individual subscriber, and we take every occasion to make that plain to a prospective subscriber. The Christian Brotherhood Newsletter is simply an efficient way for Christians to help each other in times of need. How can that be possibly construed as insurance?"
 -0- 6/2/93
 /CONTACT: Dale E. Bellis of the Christian Brotherhood Newsletter, 216-848-9477/


CO: Christian Brotherhood Newsletter ST: Ohio, Maryland IN: SU:

AR -- CL014 -- 4433 06/02/93 11:52 EDT
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Date:Jun 2, 1993
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