For the second year running, health care wins hands-down as the most important issue that regulators and legislators will face in 2008, according to interviews with National Underwriter.
There will be a big effort to be involved in solutions to provide broader health care options, says Sandy Praeger, Kansas insurance commissioner and the new president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo. State regulators can help in this area, she says, because health insurance is a very localized issue.
She notes that states have helped with health policy in the past, such as the development of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
For instance, state insurance regulators can be a resource to presidential candidates, she says, but adds that NAIC will be “apolitical” and will provide information “only if asked.”
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Praeger says regulatory modernization in areas such as producer licensing will also continue. And, going forward, NAIC will look at ways to work more with federal regulators, she says.
Utah Insurance Commissioner Kent Michie agrees that “health care is the number 1 policy issue facing us.”
The NAIC can help bring this debate into “full light” by providing good data, Michie says. “We owe it to share the expertise that we have.”
If Congress decides to pursue an optional federal charter, he says, there needs to be ways for both state regulators and federal officials to work together. Both have strengths, he says. The federal government does not have the organization or staff to enact bills that pass, while states have strength in those areas, he adds.