A key Congressman involved in insurance regulation issues says that Washington does not have the knowledge of the insurance industry it needs to regulate the business and he has proposed a new federal insurance information office to remedy the situation.
Chairman of the House Financial Service Committee’s Capital Markets Subcommittee Rep. Paul Kanjorski said he plans to introduce legislation this week that would establish an Office of Insurance Information within the Treasury Department.
Democrat Kanjorski’s proposal is similar to one of the recommendations contained in the Treasury Department’s recent Blueprint for a Modernized Financial Regulatory Structure. That blueprint called for a federal Office of Insurance Oversight, but also went further to recommend federal regulation.
Kanjorski has been advocating such an office for years.
“Shortly after September 11, it became very clear to me that the federal government lacks the expertise it needs on insurance policy. Our experiences after Hurricane Katrina and the ongoing problems in the bond insurance marketplace have only reinforced my views,” he told a subcommittee hearing this week called to review the Treasury ideas and others on insurance regulation.
He said 87 bills are currently in Congress before the Financial Services Committee. “Regardless of whether or not the federal government directly regulates insurance, we must educate ourselves on insurance policy and build a knowledge base in the federal government on these matters,” the Pennsylvania official said.
He said his legislation will build upon his own ideas and include the functions envisioned in the Treasury’s blueprint for such an office.
“I look forward to a substantive debate on this proposal in the weeks ahead,” he told lawmakers and lobbyists.
The subcommittee hearing at which Kanjorski made his plans known was one in a series of three hearings that began last year to address insurance regulatory reform efforts. Legislators heard testimony from industry groups and the Bush administration in two separate panels.
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