The Kansas State Capitol Building, in Topeka (Photo: Shutterstock) The Kansas State Capitol Building, in Topeka (Photo: Shutterstock)

Kansas is on track to get an insurance commissioner with no direct experience with working inside the insurance industry.

Vicki Schmidt, a pharmacist, defeated Clark Schultz, a veteran insurance regulator, Tuesday, in the Kansas insurance commissioner primary.

(Related: State Elections 2014: Commissioners and Ballot Measures)

Schmidt won the primary with 52% of the votes cast.

Nathaniel McLaughlin was the only Democrat running for the Kansas insurance commissioner post and did not have to go through the primary process.

The Current Commissioner

The current Kansas insurance commissioner is Ken Selzer.

Selzer holds the Certified Public Accountant and Certified Property Casualty Underwriter professional designations. He worked as an executive managing director at Aon Benfield, in the reinsurance and reinsurance brokerage industries, before becoming the commissioner in 2015.

He gave up the commissioner post to run for the Kansas Republican nomination for governor.

He came in third in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

The Republican Candidates

Schmidt, the winner of the Republican insurance commissioner primary, has been a pharmacist in the Topeka, Kansas, area for about 40 years. She has cited her experience as a pharmacist as her main qualification for serving as insurance commissioner.

“As a pharmacist, Vicki deals with Kansas health insurance problems every day,” according to her campaign website.

Schmidt’s husband is an orthopedic surgeon. She has served in the Kansas state Senate since 2005.

Schmidt does serve on the state Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee and the Health Care Stabilization Fund Oversight Committee.

Schmidt does not appear to be a visible player at the National Council of Insurance Legislators.

She has gained attention in Kansas for efforts to create an interstate licensing compact for nurses and to expand the state’s scope of practice for dental hygienists.

She has also gained attention for supporting efforts to have Kansas participate in a new Interstate Compact on Prescription Drug Monitoring, to fight the opioid abuse epidemic; to have Kansas accept federal Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion funding; and to shape efforts by the Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer, a Republican, to tighten the state’s Medicaid eligibility requirements.

Schmidt’s primary opponent, Clark Shultz, has been working as the deputy insurance commissioner at the Kansas Insurance Department. He has been a licensed title insurance agent and a title insurance auditor. While he was serving in the Kansas House, he was chairman of the House Insurance Committee. He teaches a class on insurance at Washburn University.

The Democrat

Nathaniel McLaughlin, the only Democratic candidate for insurance commissioner, is retired from a post as a district manager in the Mid-West district for Sodexo Healthcare Services.

McLaughlin was in charge of managing the company’s contracts with hospitals. Under those contracts, Sodexo supplied hospitals with services such as food services, environmental services and laundry services.

McLaughlin came to that post by working as the food services director for large hospitals in Durham, North Carolina, and in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Topeka Capital-Journal website, cjonline.com, ran an interview with McLaughlin July 14.

McLaughlin told the reporter who wrote the article that his main goals as insurance commissioner would be “ensure that the insurance marketplace is not a dark scary place” and to help the uninsured get health insurance.

He noted that he has had experience with managing health care services risk management programs.

The reporter asked McLaughlin, “Do you support expansion of Medicaid in Kansas?”

The reporter quotes McLaughlin as giving the following answer: “I support the expansion of Medicare. States like Kansas that did not expand Medicare have had a sharp increase in the number of uninsured citizens.”

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