Labor Unions Keep Close Eye on Election for Next Insurance Commissioner
Labor unions are keeping a close watch on the election for California's next insurance commissioner, partially because the new commissioner could play a key role during the implementation of the federal health reform law, Capitol Weekly reports (Howard, Capitol Weekly, 10/14).
Vying for the position are Assembly members Dave Jones (D- Sacramento) and Mike Villines (R- Clovis). TheÂ insuranceÂ commissionerÂ manages the California Department of Insurance, which draws on a $150 million annual budget and 1,100 employees to oversee a $124 billion insurance market (Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 10/13).
According to Capitol Weekly, unions are seeking a strong ally in the Department of Insurance as the state rolls out its forthcoming health insurance exchange. The federal health reform law calls for states to establishÂ such exchanges to provide marketplaces for people to purchase health plans.
The exchanges could alter the health care landscape for unions, which generally view health benefits as a collective bargaining issue (Capitol Weekly, 10/14).
Both Jones and Villines support new state legislation that establishes California's health insurance exchange.
Jones' Stance on Health Issues
Jones has said that he supports strong limits on health insurance rates. He has proposed giving the insurance commissioner the same authority to regulate health plan rates that the position has over many types of casualty and property insurance.
In the past, Jones has backed unsuccessful bills to establish a state-run, single-payer health care system.
Villines' Stance on Health Issues
Villines has said he would back a government-supported health care safety net for individuals who need assistance. He also has said he would closely monitor insurers to ensure that they only cancel health insurance policies if they can prove that a policyholder falsified information on an insurance application.
In addition, Villines has said he would encourage a "vibrant private sector" for health care companies (Los Angeles Times, 10/13).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.