All five incumbent state insurance commissioners up for re-election won their bids Tuesday, four Democrats and one Republican, including two members of the NAIC’s leadership team.
Republican Adam Hamm of North Dakota won against Democratic competitor Tom Potter by 63.25% to 36.59%.
Hamm, a former prosecutor, is the Vice President of the NAIC and is due to lead the organization in a couple of years. He has tussled with the 2010 health care reform law implementation and has complained about being placed in limbo awaiting final rules from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on such measures as the Essential Health Benefit (EHB) benchmark plan required for states to file under the health care reform law.
Hamm has written that the North Dakota Insurance Department is fielding countless questions surrounding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and that the North Dakota Insurance Department is analyzing information to provide North Dakota’s consumers with unbiased resources concerning the new health reform law.
Current NAIC Secretary-Treasurer and Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica J. Lindeen was also re-elected by what looks to be at least 53% against Republican challenger Derek Skees.
Lindeen is Vice-Chair of the NAIC Health Insurance and Managed Care Committee and has been active on health care reform issues. Lindeen was appointed to the Federal Insurance Office Advisory Board, which aids the office’s director in monitoring the insurance industry. She is also a member of the System for Electronic Rate and Form Filing (SERFF) board and the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR) board of directors.
In Delaware, incumbent Karen Weldin Stewart won by 61.1% over Republican Benjamin Mobley (36.8%) and libertarian candidate David Eisenhour ( 2.1%).
In Washington State, the longest-running current insurance commissioner, veteran legisaltor and current health care advocate, Mike Kreidler, triumphed over John R. Adams, getting what looked to be at least 57% of the vote.
One of the more interesting situations, though, is that of Democratic North Carolina Commissioner Wayne Goodwin (N.C.)
Goodwin dealt with a straight ticket ballot but prevailed, winning 51.83% to Republican Mike Causey ‘s 48.17% in the state that presidential contender, Gov. Mitt Romney won narrowly and which has a new Republican Governor, former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory. In the only party switch in the 11 gubernatorial races this year, McCrory beat current Lt. Governor Walter Dalton to become the first GOP head of the state since 1988, according to press reports.
Goodwin, a former state legislator and lawyer in private practice, discussed his priorities with National Underwriter the day after the election, noting the health care reform balance he must strike with the new Republican governor in a state that took a wait and see attitude on PPACA Exchange implementation.
“Like a large number of states, North Carolina rolled the dice on whether ACA would be stricken,” Goodwin said. Legislation for an exchange passed the house but stalled in the state senate.
There is a looming November 16 deadline to tell HHS if it intends to go forward with a state-based health insurance marketplace or exchange or a federal partnership. This means it is too late for the state to act on a North Carolina exchange, he noted, yet creating a state exchange is a priority, he said.
“One of my goals for the coming year is to underscore my advocacy for a state based exchanged rather than a federal exchange. What is best for consumers for a state-based exchange system of regulation.”
Goodwin hopes that the state can ease into a state exchange after instituting a federal partnership in the interim. His understanding of the situation is that the state can segue into a state-based exchange later.
However, Goodwin said, he “presuppose what our new governor would do—I would hope he would be more support in state system than federal.”
Goodwin is also a supporter of the medical loss ratio commission easements for agents and brokers, as supported in Congressional legislation, most notably H.R. 1206.
Agents and brokers should not have their commissions negatively impacted by the law, he remarked.
“I will continue to be an advocate for protecting the well-earned reasonable commissioners of our agents and brokers and certainly hope that now that the election is over that the federal lawmakers will be able to move on this legislation. –it is my hope with the election behind us that we will see bipartisan approaches to solving this,” Goodwin told National Underwriter.
Another huge priority for Goodwin is on long-term care (LTC) insurance. Goodwin hopes to usher in some LTC reforms in the state to give consumers protections while recognizing the marketplace cost pressures.
Goodwin is also making continuing to make fighting insurance fraud a priority in his administration, he said.
Goodwin also wants to reach appropriate pricing with carriers on homeowners insurance, and is working on coastal reforms for wind pool insurance with fairer rates, and always weighing the need for insurance companies to make reasonable profits while keeping rates affordable.
He is in a little hot water with property insurers in the state as he did not approve a recent rate request and issued a notice of public hearing and time for experts to weight in. “I will continue my delicate balance [and try to deliver- positive news for all parties,” he said.
Since taking office in 2009, Goodwin has ordered insurance rate cuts, rate freezes, rebates, refunds and restitution that have saved North Carolinians more than $1.3 billion, according to his campaign website.