D.C. Insurance Commissioner Dismissed After Questioning Obamacare Fix: Reports

November 18, 2013

Washington, D.C.’s commissioner for the department of insurance, securities and banking, William P. White, was dismissed last Friday, a day after questioning the White House’s proposal to let health insurers extend policies canceled under the healthcare reform law, according to media reports.

Washington, D.C., Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) issued an official announcement Sunday that Chester A. McPherson, who has been serving as deputy commissioner of market operations, has been named the acting commissioner of DISB. McPherson begins his new role effective immediately.

“Chester McPherson’s extensive management and leadership background make him an ideal candidate to lead the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking,” Victor L. Hoskins, D.C. deputy mayor for planning and economic development, said in a statement Sunday.

“His work in both the public and private sectors as a financial-services professional and as a federal and state regulator of the securities markets will be instrumental as the agency continues to move forward with its mission and goals.”

As deputy commissioner of market operations, McPherson has developed strategic plans and implemented policies and programs that uphold Washington, D.C., laws, enhance consumer protection and ensure efficient and effective financial services regulation in the District of Columbia. Before joining DISB in 2011, McPherson served as a legislative counsel with the D.C. Council.

The DISB press office declined to comment on Commissioner White’s departure, saying that it’s city policy not to comment on personnel matters. In a statement posted on the DISB website last Thursday that has since been taken down, White suggested that he opposes the idea of extending policies that were slated to be canceled.

The proposal to extend the policies “undercuts the purpose of the exchanges, including the District’s DC Health Link, by creating exceptions that make it more difficult for them to operate,” White said in the statement.

White also pointed to a statement from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) that said continuing the cancelled policies “threatens to undermine the new market, and may lead to higher premiums and market disruptions in 2014 and beyond.”

“”We concur with that assessment,” White said in the statement.

The Washington Post quoted White as saying that he was summoned to a meeting last Friday with one of D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s top deputies and told that the mayor “wants to go in a different direction.” The report quoted White as saying that the mayoral deputy never said that he was being asked to leave because of his Thursday statement. But he said the timing was hard to ignore.

The Washington Post report also quotes an anonymous senior city official as saying that White’s initial statement was sent to the mayoral communications director “only minutes” before it was issued publicly and that the statement was not sent to White’s immediate supervisor, D.C. Deputy Mayor Victor Hoskins. White was quoted as saying in an interview with The Washington Post that he thought he would have been derelict in his duties to not quickly make a statement on the president’s announcement.

White was appointed to the commissioner post by D.C. Mayor Gray in February 2011. He has been an active member of the NAIC, serving on a number of its committees including the International Insurance Relations (G) Committee as vice chair. He has also been serving as a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Insurance (FACI) since November 2011.

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