Do away with his office, that is, not him.
State Senate Democrats sent out a news release today about a bill introduced by their Republican counterparts that would eliminate the elected office of insurance commissioner, which has been filled by Mike Kreidler since 2001. He began his fourth term in office in 2012.
Since federal health care reform passed, Kreidler has been all about health insurance, all the time. He’s the one who determines which insurance plans get included in the state exchange, and last year rankled some critics when he decided that some plans initially did not have robust enough offerings to be included — effectively limiting the options that were available in the exchange. The four plans that were denied entry appealed his decision, and he later settled with them so they all got included after all.
The Senate Republicans’ Bill 6458, which hasn’t even been heard in committee yet, “creates the state insurance board which will be responsible for the oversight of the insurance code.” It “transfers the powers, duties, and functions of the office of the insurance commissioner pertaining to regulation of insurance to the state insurance board.”
The board would have 10 members, two each nominated by the Republican and Democrat caucuses in both the state Senate and House and appointed by the governor, and then a non-voting member who’s not employed by the state to serve as chair, and the director of the Department of Financial Institutions, who will also be non-voting.
The bill has 13 Republican sponsors in the Senate, which is an indicator of strong support among that party; however, it’s unlikely that the Democrat-controlled House would let the bill go anywhere.
Staff for the Senate Democrats said that since the Office of Insurance Commissioner was originally created by the Legislature, the Legislature has the power to eliminate it without a vote of the larger electorate in Washington.
Probably won’t go anywhere, but interesting to see this come after state Republicans have repeatedly expressed displeasure with how the state is implementing health care reform — which has been consistently lauded as one of the smoothest rollouts nationwide.
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