Major Insurance Group Will Not Take Position on Confirmation of Hoch as Workers’ Compensation Director
The Association of California Insurance Companies on Tuesday announced that it will not take a position in the debate over the confirmation of Division of Workers' Compensation Director Andrea Hoch, an indication that "the appointment could be in trouble," the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports (Lawrence, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 3/15).
The Senate Rules Committee last month postponed Hoch's confirmation to give interested parties additional time to file comments. Union leaders and attorneys for injured workers are said to be coordinating their opposition to Hoch, who helped implement rules establishing guidelines for determining workers' compensation insurance payments for permanently injured workers (California Healthline, 2/22).
ACIC said that the group rarely takes positions on gubernatorial nominees. Officials also cited concerns that an endorsement "could skew the debate," according to the AP/Mercury News.
Theo Pahos, an ACIC lobbyist, said, "For us to weigh in politically gives it more attention than it deserves. We don't want to play in that sandbox. We don't want this to be insurer versus injured workers because it is not."
ACIC President Sam Sorich said, "I think we generally feel [Hoch] is doing a good job in a very difficult situation. We're just staying neutral on her confirmation." He added that he believes Schwarzenegger would nominate someone who is "conversant enough to carry forth the program" if Hoch is not confirmed.
American Insurance Association spokesperson Nicole Mahrt said, "We think [Hoch] has done a great job under difficult circumstances and has worked hard to get complicated regulations done."
Workers' Compensation Action Network spokesperson Jerry Azevedo said, "We think it does matter that the division needs a strong leader, that Andrea Hoch has been that leader, and we want her to stay in that position."
Schwarzenegger spokesperson Vince Sollitto called the reluctance of ACIC to take a position a "tangential irrelevancy." He added, "Her nomination hinges on whether opponents of reform will be able to win back what they lost in a broad, bipartisan vote last year."
Alicia Dlugosh, a spokesperson for Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland), said that Hoch must be confirmed by May 3 to remain in office (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 3/15).