Q: What challenges do you anticipate your particular state running into with upcoming health care reform provisions?
Sharon Clark: Kentucky faces the same challenges as other states, including receiving guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services regarding definitions, etc. Fortunately, we had several of the Sept. 23 consumer protections, as well as a rate review process, already in Kentucky statutes.
Q: For producers licensed to sell health insurance in your state, what developments might they look out for in the short term?
SC: Agents will need to follow health reform developments closely. We know there are many unanswered questions and, as a result, producers are finding it difficult to answer customer questions about various aspects of reform, particularly related to the exchanges. The Kentucky [Insurance] Department is keeping in close contact with our agent groups and their memberships to keep them updated on new regulations and our implementation efforts.
Q: What should producers concentrate on the most over the next 10 or so years with regard to health care reform’s effects in Kentucky?
SC: Producers will need to stay abreast of developments in health reform and must work closely with state regulators and departments of insurance as federal regulations are written and new state laws are passed.
Q: Is your state doing anything differently or preparing in any special way for health care reform?
SC: Kentucky has already been in close contact with stakeholders since passage of the bill, trying to keep them informed and soliciting thoughts and concerns. We want them to bring questions to us, because it is possible one of those groups will notice something not currently on our radar.
Q: What did you get out of President Obama’s recent meeting with several state regulators?
The president recognized and acknowledged the major responsibilities that have been placed on state departments of insurance. He also promised open lines of communication between state and federal governments.
Sharon P. Clark, a veteran of Kentucky state government, was appointed commissioner on June 30, 2008. Clark was the first director of the Department of Insurance’s Consumer Protection and Education division, a position she held for five years. Prior to returning to the department, she worked at the Finance and Administration Cabinet.
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