State insurance regulators today said that they could accept a bill that would establish a federal Office of Insurance Information, while state lawmakers talked about the role state regulators would play at the OII.
H.R. 5840, the Insurance Information Act, has won the “conditional support” of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., as long as no one expands the powers granted to the proposed OII during the legislative process, Illinois Insurance Director Michael McRaith testified here on behalf of the NAIC, at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee Capital Markets Subcommittee.
“Our conditional support also hinges on the proposal not changing in ways detrimental to insurance consumers as it winds its way through the legislative process,” McRaith said.
Rhode Island state Rep. Brian Kennedy, D-Hopkinton, R.I., who testified on behalf of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, Troy, N.Y., criticized a section of the bill that would create an insurance advisory group and give the NAIC a primary role in group affairs.
About 80% of state insurance commissioners are gubernatorial appointees, and the current draft of the advisory group provision would lead to a “dramatic enhancement of the authority for this non-governmental entity known as the NAIC, which comes at the expense of the state officials to whom they are accountable,” Kennedy testified at the hearing.
Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., the chairman of the Capital Market Subcommittee and author of H.R. 5840, convened the hearing to review the bill.
The bill would set up the OII, an arm of the U.S. Treasury Department that would advise other federal agencies about insurance issues and work with the U.S. Trade Representative.
Kanjorski says he wants to move the bill through the House Financial Services Committee “in the near future,” but he also says the November elections will impose “terrible time constraints.”
No companion bill has been introduced in the Senate.
During the hearing, McRaith responded to Kennedy’s concerns about the way the bill treats the NAIC by suggesting that NCOIL also could fill seats on the advisory group.