National Conference of Insurance Legislators officers have sent a letter urging key congressional committee leaders to protect state efforts to regulate insurance markets.

The officers of NCOIL, Troy, N.Y., have mailed copies of the letter to Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and to Reps. George Miller, D-Calif., Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Henry Waxman, D-Calif.

Congress should acknowledge “the strength and accomplishments of the states and . . . preserve the protections that they have put in place,” the NCOIL officers write in the letter. “States are best-suited to respond to the specific needs of their individual markets.”

Given how much state insurance markets vary, “a detached federal regulator would be hard-pressed to respond as quickly and appropriately as state officials,” the NCOIL officials write. “States actively defend consumers by overseeing market conduct, fraud prevention, strong solvency regulation, and strict standards for health plans, such as benefit requirements and grievance procedures, among many other patient protections.”

A federal system that undermined the current system would hurt the people that members of Congress are trying to help, the NCOIL officers write.

The list of NCOIL officers who signed the letter includes Sen. James Seward, R-Otsego, N.Y., NCOIL’s president; Rep. Robert Damron, D-Frankfort, Ky., the group’s president-elect; Rep. George Keiser, R-Bismarck, N.D., the group’s vice president; Sen. Carroll Leavell, R-Jal, N.M., the group’s secretary; and Sen. Vi Simpson, D-Ellettsville, Ind., the group’s treasurer.