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SABIR to Defend State Insurance Regulation

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WASHINGTON BUREAU — A new group, the States Alliance for Balanced Insurance Regulation, will represent small and midsize insurance-related businesses in the looming battle over the role of federal regulators.

Ernest Csiszar, a former South Carolina insurance director, will be the chairman SABIR, organizers say.

Many expect the next Congress to consider giving insurers the option of adopting a federal charter and coming under the jurisdiction of a federal regulatory agency, rather than sticking with the traditional state-run insurance regulatory system.

SABIR will speak for members who are leery of increased federal involvement in the industry, according to David Bass, president of Raptor Strategies L.L.C., Washington.

Bass will be the executive director of SABIR, and Barry Goldwater Jr. will be the president. Goldwater, the son of the late Arizona senator and 1964 presidential candidate, represented California in the House from 1969 to 1984.

Csiszar and Bass are set to speak in Seattle at the summer meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo.

Csiszar says he believes SABIR will have a broad base.

“SABIR’s founding membership spans the industry, representing providers as well as purchasers of insurance products, including health care,” Csiszar says in a statement.

“SABIR will be fundamentally different from other major insurance associations in that we won’t be inclined to support federal regulation,” Bass says. “We were born of the sentiments and frustration from insurers across the nation. They have always operated under state regulation, and the intrusive federal government threatens not only their way of business but their existence as a whole…. SABIR aims to be the collective organ for the protection and promotion of balanced regulation of insurance.”

Congress has given opponents of federal involvement in insurance regulation much food for thought in recent months.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., said in July during a conference call organized by the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, Troy, N.Y., that an optional federal charter (OFC) proposal will be on the congressional agenda in 2011 because the OFC concept has strong bipartisan support.

The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has created an Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has installed a Federal Insurance Office at the U.S. Treasury Department.


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