WASHINGTON — A representative for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners said Congress should be careful not to weaken the mechanisms states now use to regulate health care financing.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, chair of the health insurance and managed care committee of the NAIC, Kansas City, Mo., made that case today here at a roundtable on health care delivery reform that was convened by the Senate Finance Committee.

Congress should make sure to keep health reform legislation from preempting current patient protections, solvency standards and other health care finance oversight mechanisms, Praeger said.

Praeger added that Congress should start by addressing the problem of skyrocketing spending.

The cost of medical care has “stressed the entire health care financing system.” Praeger said. “Health insurance reform will not solve this problem, since insurance is primarily a method of financing health care costs.”

Praeger noted that Congress already has preempted state oversight of private Medicare plans.

“As members of this committee know all too well, the preemption of state oversight of private Medicare plans has led to fraudulent and abusive marketing practices that would have been prevented under state law,” Praeger said.

Preserving a strong state role in health care reform also would minimize disruption, she said.

“Since states will be starting from different positions, simultaneous changes could cause severe market disruptions as young, healthy individuals find their premiums increasing several hundred dollars per month and may drop out of their coverage,” Praeger said.

If spread out over a period of years, however, “the transition could be more smoothly implemented, especially if [changes] are accompanied by subsidies,” Praeger said.