NAIC CEO Ben Nelson and a group that says it is poised to defend state regulation spoke in robust battle rhetoric Monday at a reception, upping the rhetoric against federal insurance supervision while at an event where participants made a call to arms, of sorts, against federal encroachment.
The target – “excessive federal regulation” – is in the form of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the Federal Insurance Office (FIO), according to the group’s literature and dialogue with reporters, which Nelson echoed in his statements. Left unmentioned is the Federal Reserve Board, which is already regulating some insurers of all sizes because they have thrifts, and may regulate more under Dodd-Frank parameters.
“Folks may look at us as if we are protecting our turf. With any assault on state regulation, I am out of my chair, ready to fight immediately,” said the former U.S. Senator from Nebraska, NAIC official, state regulator and governor. “State regulation is worth protecting.”
Nelson was speaking at a gathering sponsored by the States Alliance for Balanced Insurance Regulation (SABIR), which states that “every day the specter of federal regulation grows and the onslaught against states’ rights continues,” and makes statements defending an “increasingly threatened way of life. We fight for you!”
This is Nelson’s first NAIC national meeting as its Washington-based CEO.
SABIR, which sponsored a private gathering at the NAIC conference’s hotel, is headed by Calif. Rep. Barry M. Goldwater, Jr., R-Calif., son of the late Arizona senator and Republican presidential nominee in 1964. It has been in existence since about mid-2010. The group is a nonprofit 501(c)3 that appears to represent these small and medium-sized insurers.
Goldwater said he would encourage all insurance commissioners to take a stand against any encroachment from FIO.
“I think we have a potential army not only in the commissioners but in the industry,” Goldwater said at the event.
Goldwater invoked as examples of federal failures Amtrak, Fannie Mae, the War on Drugs and the War on Poverty to try and demonstrate how PPACA does not hold much promise for fixing health care coverage.
He advised states to step back and take a “wait-and-see attitude” toward any implementation of the ACA and exchanges, adding that state-based exchanges are a misnomer because even they have to get stamps of approval from the federal government.
The “big guys” might like federal regulation but middle-sized and smaller companies like state-based regulation, Goldwater said.
It does not list its members, but SABIR notes on its website that small and mid-size insurers have found it increasingly difficult to get their particular point of view known to, and advocated within, Congress.
Why fight now, SABIR asks?