State lawmakers are trying to persuade state executive branch officials to help oppose the creation of a federal Office of Insurance Information.
The National Council of Insurance Legislators, Troy, N.Y., is lining up support for a fight against H.R. 5840, the Insurance Information Act.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee capital markets subcommittee, would establish an OII within the U.S. Treasury Department.
The OII would advise federal officials on insurance issues and work with the U.S. Trade Representatives in matters involving other countries, according to the bill text.
NCOIL officers predict in a letter sent to the governors and attorneys general in all 50 states that enacting H.R. 5840 would do more than create a new advisory agency.
The bill “would likely override state insurance laws and their related consumer protections while impacting the healthy insurance marketplace that states have built, as well as potentially lead down the dangerous path to the creation of a federal insurance regulator,” NCOIL officers write in the letter.
“As state officials with boots on the ground, we know and serve the needs of our constituents better than any bureaucratic federal office,” the NCOIL officers write.
State lawmakers, governors and attorneys general “work side-by-side to improve insurance regulation in our states and to ensure that companies and consumers benefit from the competitive marketplace we have fostered,” NCOIL officials write.
NCOIL also is questioning the prominent role H.R. 5840 would give to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., by making the NAIC an OII advisory body.
At a hearing of Kanjorski’s subcommittee held earlier this month, Illinois Insurance Director Michael McRaith offered the NAIC’s “conditional support” for H.R. 5840, provided that the NAIC’s own concerns about federal preemption of state laws were taken into account.
State Rep. Brian Kennedy, D-Hopkinton, R.I., testified at the hearing that NCOIL might see the bill differently if the bill would make NCOIL an official OII advisory body.
However, NCOIL spokesman Michael Humphreys said Wednesday that NCOIL has concerns about the proposed OII itself, not simply the composition of the advisory board, and that those concerns would remain even if NCOIL were part of the advisory board.
NCOIL also has been contacting individual insurance commissioners, to see what they think about H.R. 5840.
“NCOIL would like to confirm your continuing support of successful state insurance regulation and your opposition to H.R. 5840 in its current form,” NCOIL writes in the letter to the commissioners. “The position taken by the NAIC–on behalf of all state insurance regulators–and presented to Congress at a June 10 hearing is a dangerous policy to pursue.”