Health care and insurance industry officials and a state legislator were named by Gov. Susana Martinez to a panel that will select New Mexico’s newly independent insurance regulator.
A nine-member committee will name the superintendent of insurance to run an independent regulatory office starting in July. The Public Regulation Commission currently picks the insurance superintendent, who oversees insurance prices and policies.
The governor appointed:
- Republican Rep. Zach Cook, a Ruidoso lawyer.
- Babette Saenz, who is academic dean at Southwest Acupuncture College in Albuquerque.
- Gabriel Parra of Albuquerque, a lawyer for Presbyterian Healthcare Services, which operates a network of hospitals, clinics, physician groups and a health insurance plan. It is New Mexico’s largest managed care organization.
- Norm Becker, president and CEO of New Mexico Mutual, the state’s largest workers’ compensation insurer. Becker, of Los Ranchos, has an extensive background in the insurance and health care industries. He has served as CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico as well as Lovelace Health System.
Voters approved a constitutional amendment to establish an independent insurance regulator, removing those operations from the five-member elected PRC.
The Legislative Council, a group made up of House and Senate leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers, will appoint four members of the selection committee. A ninth member is appointed by others on the panel. The council meets later this month and could make its appointments then.
A new state law requires lawmakers and the governor to each appoint two members representing the insurance industry and two members representing consumers.
The Legislature approved a measure this year to implement the constitutional amendment and establish the committee that will pick the insurance superintendent, who can be removed by the panel for incompetence, willful neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.
The insurance superintendent initially will serve a term expiring Dec. 31, 2015, and then the regulator will be appointed by the panel to four-year terms.
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