Rep. Oxley Presents Plan for National Insurance Regulation
At a meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in New York, House Committee on Financial Services Chair Michael Oxley (R-Ohio) this week presented plans for legislation to create a council of federal and state officials to regulate the insurance industry at the national level, the New York Times reports. The legislation would call for a presidential appointee to head the council. Under the legislation, which Oxley said he would introduce later this year, states would be required "to adopt uniform standards and permit the market to determine insurance prices rather than have them determined by regulators as is generally the case now," according to the Times. Oxley said that national regulation would end "the travesty of price controls" for the insurance industry, adding that insurers' profits would increase and consumers' choices would expand under national regulation. However, J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America and a former Texas insurance regulator, said, "Americans are going to get ripped off," adding, "Most people can't look at an insurance policy and tell whether they have a good one." According to the Times, state regulators "are not eager to cede authority" but said they will work to lobby Congress on the issue "rather than continue fighting what they now regard as a losing battle." Ernst Csiszar, NAIC president and director of insurance for South Carolina, said, "We don't want to stand on the sidelines and be naysayers. We want to participate in the process." The insurance industry has lobbied for such regulation changes in the past. The legislation will be discussed at a congressional hearing later this month, the Times reports (Treaster, New York Times, 3/18).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.