Members of the new Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission say they are taking consumer advocates’ concerns about IIPRC openness seriously.

“We are working to find our own process — the right process,” Diane Koken, chair of the interim management committee and interstate insurance product regulation commissioner, said here at a public hearing held during the fall meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo.

“The public had and will continue to have the opportunity to participate in the management committee and the commission itself,” Koken said.

Members of the IIPRC moved unanimously to strike a provision from the IIPRC’s proposed bylaws that would restrict public access to committee and subcommittee meetings.

The deleted provision states: “Committees established by the commission shall not be required to have meetings open to the public for purposes of these bylaws, when such meetings do not consist of a majority of the members of the commission and the purpose of the meeting is not to take formal action and no formal action is taken on behalf of the management committee or commission.”

The amendment proposal, introduced by Ohio, would open meetings of IIPRC committees and subcommittees to the public and require that committees and subcommittees hold at least one public hearing on any proposal before sending the proposal to the commission or the IIPRC management committee.

The IIPRC now is taking public comments on the proposed bylaws.

During the hearing, members of the IIPRC’s consumer advisory committee criticized the IIPRC’s failure to open past committee meetings to the public.

Closing committee and subcommittee meetings to the public would “promote expediency over public accountability,” according to Birny Birnbaum, executive director of the Center for Economic Justice, Austin, Texas.

If Ohio lawmakers learned that IIPRC meetings continue to be closed to the public, the lawmakers “may wonder whether the passage of the compact was a wise action,” said Scott Gilliam, assistant vice president of Cincinnati Insurance Companies, Cincinnati.

Michael Lovendusky, associate general counsel of the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, spoke at the hearing on behalf of the ACLI; America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington; the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va.; and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, Mass.

The life insurance industry supports the Ohio transparency proposal because it advances public access, Lovendusky said.