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    Legislature will review any new health rules from insurance commissioner

    It's a measure very watered down from an attempt to abolish the office of state insurance commissioner.
    Sen. Randi Becker (upper left)

    Sen. Randi Becker (upper left) John Stang

    Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler at a 2009 rally in support of health care reform.

    Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler at a 2009 rally in support of health care reform. seiuhealthcare775nw/Flickr

     If Washington's insurance commissioner wants to create new health insurance regulations, he will have to run them by a pair of legislative committees first.

    Washington's Senate passed 35-14 Tuesday a heavily changed bill that would require the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to run any new health insurance rules by the health care committees of the House and Senate. If either of those committees objects to the proposed regulation, an administrative procedure would resolve the conflict.

    This requirement does not apply to new regulations for other types of insurance. The bill now goes to Gov. Jay Inslee.

    The bill has bounced back and forth between the House and Senate. It is what is left of a bill that originally called for abolishing the elected position of insurance commissioner, and replacing that person with a legislatively nominated board to supervise all insurance matters in the state. Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville and chair of the Senate Health Care Committee, introduced the original bill.

    Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler opposed the original bill, contending that a board would limit the office's accountability to the public. Insurance companies cannot legally donate to the campaigns of insurance commissioner candidates, but there is no such rule about the campaigns of Washington state legislators who would appoint the board. Kreidler also argued that the elected insurance commissioner is directly accountable to the public. He is serving his fourth term as insurance commissioner.

    On Tuesday, his office issued a short statement saying it has no problems with the revised bill approved Tuesday.

    For exclusive coverage of the state government, check out Crosscut's Under the Dome page.

    John Stang covers state government for Crosscut. He can be reached by writing editor@crosscut.com.

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    Posted Wed, Mar 12, 5:12 a.m. Inappropriate

    Why isn't the Legislature reviewing all new rules from the various State agencies to look for potential adverse impacts?


    Posted Wed, Mar 12, 11:17 a.m. Inappropriate

    The revised bill is foolish, inefficient and unnecessary, but essentially harmless. In other words, the Legislature has exceeded expectations.


    Posted Thu, Mar 13, 6:51 p.m. Inappropriate

    A succession of Washington State Insurance Commissioners for decades have protected the People's interests in insurance matters.

    The GOP would love to turn over insurance rule-making and rate-setting to a cabal of Republican party hacks and their lobbyist friends, to the detriment of Washingtonians.

    Greed and hubris.


    Posted Thu, Mar 13, 8:31 p.m. Inappropriate


    I really appreciate your coverage of this issue from the start, as its a vital one to consumers and to an independent OIC. I would note the bill does absolutely nothing that can't be done under current law, and I have asked, why do we need legislation on this? But what is important is that it does force OIC into legislative contacts on rules, but even more important, it did help leverage passage of a very good bill. (Although one that was pared down in scope and is too limited by Senate, and attempts to expand to all taxpayer paid healthcare paid services were voted down tonight by MCC.) This will create a data base and an evaluation program of efficacy and cost effectiveness of health care services paid for by public dollars. It is a huge step forward in our state to look at health expenditures for their outcomes and effectiveness, and head us to where we should be. I predict we can lead the nation and we will soon be paying for health care based on outcomes and not fee for service in government paid health care. Great trade. Good work, Rep. Cody, and good thing Sen. Becker and Dammeier also agreed and listened to Sen. Pedersen and Cody and are willing to at least start a process that should be broader and will become broader in the future. This is a big step for WA, and we can lead the nation. Congrats for a good step forward and for putting down a really bad idea.


    Posted Sat, Mar 15, 12:37 p.m. Inappropriate

    Kreidler negates Obama's Obamacare changes, fixes, delays, carve-outs, etc. Abolish the office.


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