Insurance Commissioner Posts To Wield Power Over Health Overhaul
Tuesday's midterm elections have key implications for state insurance commissioners, who are charged with carrying out many of the provisions in the federal health reform law, NPR/Kaiser Health News reports.
Voters in four states will directly elect their state insurance chiefs today, while about three dozen governors who are on the ballot will name their state's insurance commissioner in coming months.
The health reform law calls for commissioners to enforce a number of new consumer protections, such as preventing insurance companies from charging more for female or sicker patients beginning in 2014.
The commissioners also have played a critical role in shaping the regulations contained in the law. For example, the National AssociationÂ of Insurance Commissioners decided which expenses health plans are allowed to claim as actual medical care versus spending on administration and overhead (Varney, NPR/Kaiser Health News, 11/1).
In California, the insurance industry has spent more than $4.5 million on the insurance commissioner election. The majority of the money has been used to back Assembly member Mike Villines (R-Clovis).
If elected, Villines says he would:
- Seek to lower workers' compensation rates;
- Tackle fraud; and
- Work to protect individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.
His opponent is Assembly member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento).
If elected, Jones says that he would work quickly to roll out the health reform law, including securing low insurance costs for California's six million uninsured individuals (Jones, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/1).
For more on the insurance commissioner race in California, see today's Capitol Desk post.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.