Oversight of the new state fund to subsidize medical malpractice rates will rank as a top priority for the new Maryland Insurance Commissioner.

Last week, Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Jr. named R. Steven Orr to serve as Maryland Insurance Commissioner.

Mr. Orr, 53, most recently served as chief information officer for the Universal Underwriters Group (a Zurich Financial Services company) since 2000. Previously, he was involved in the start-up and operation of businesses specializing information technology systems and project management.

As part of the state’s recently enacted medical malpractice reform package HMOs are now subject to premium tax, which will be forwarded to carriers to use to subsidize premiums.

In addition, Mr. Orr said implementing speed to market rate and filing reforms will also be a top priority of administration.

The appointment is for the balance of the four-year term of Alfred Redmer, who resigned last October to join the private sector. The recess appointment is subject to confirmation by the Maryland State Senate in its 2006 session.