Washington Insurance Commissioner Seeks to Resolve Past Political Bickering

January 16, 2001

Newly elected Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler wants to regain some powers stripped away by lawmakers peeved at predecessor Deborah Senn, Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News service has reported. Kreidler reportedly plans to also seek the re-accreditation of the office and expand availability of lower-cost drugs.

His predecessor, the controversial Senn, who lost a bid for the U.S. Senate in November, had alienated many legislators during her eight years in office. The news service reported Kreidler expects to mend those relations over the next few months. Last year, lawmakers took away the insurance commissioner’s power to regulate health insurance premiums, a direct slap at then-Commisisoner Senn, according to a quote in the news service report that was attributed to Kreidler. And the commissioner’s office can no longer conduct hearings using its own administrative law judges, he was reported as saying.

Legislators reportedly questioned their impartiality. Much more was seemingly at question in Washington. The insurance commissioner’s office lost its national accreditation last year. Kreidler told the news service that the loss “impedes Washington insurers who do business out of state and discourages nonresident companies who might introduce new products.” Most companies are eager to see accreditation restored, he told the news service. “They’re going to be our biggest supporters.”

The commissioner’s office, with 175 employees, is supported almost entirely by assessments imposed on the insurance industry. Kreidler reportedly said that legislation enacted in 2000 that reopened the market for individual health insurance will likely need fine-tuning. But because the new plans have been on the market only since the fall, officials want to gather more information before making changes, he said. “The Legislature wants to see what’s working, and so do I,” he told the news service.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.