Friday, September 16, 2011

An Afternoon with the Commish

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to listen to a brief presentation by our new Insurance Commissioner, Mary Taylor. Although she took office only a few months ago, she had some interesting things to say, and gamely took questions from a group of (understandably) discomfited insurance agents (I got the first one).

We only had her for about half an hour; she spoke for maybe 20 minutes, but that was fine since it left time for questions.

Right out of the box, she mentioned that Ohio is a fairly competitive state, health insurance-wise. That is, we have several carriers vying for market share, which helps to keep rates in the reasonable range (by comparison to other states only, of course).

She spoke at length about ObamaCare©, as would be expected (she also observed that we probably had our own name for it, which was, of course, correct). One major concern is that it's expected to increase Buckeye state Medicaid rolls by 1 million people. When questioned about that later, she re-confirmed that this expansion was due exclusively to ObamaCare©, not the current economy (which, of course, also adds to those numbers).

Ms Taylor also expressed her regret at how Washington has forced so many ill-conceived mandates on the states (more on this in a few moments), and the current administration in Columbus is very much in the Repeal-and-Replace camp, with an emphasis on state-based reforms.

As mentioned, I got the first question. Before I asked it, though, I told her that "my co-blogger calls it ObamaCrap," which got chuckles from both her and my fellow agents.

My question for her was: "Given the boundaries of McCarran–Ferguson, why aren't state DOI's screaming bloody murder at HHS usurping their regulatory power?" Since I knew that she was relatively new to her job (she, like pretty much every Insurance Commissioner I've ever heard of, has no background in the industry), I gave her examples such as Waivers and Guaranteed Issue for kiddies (which has killed the child-only market), which were never in ObamaCare© itself but "forced" on the states by Shecantbeserious. Her answer was a bit disappointing, if not unexpected: she and her boss (she's also the Lt Governor) feel that the best way to fight it right now is by educating the public. Meh.

The other interesting question that came up was about Medical Loss Ratios (MLR). The question was why hadn't we (Ohio) applied for a waiver on MLR. She answered that they didn't think MLR was a problem here, since we have a pretty competitive market (for now). The guy who asked it followed up by pointing out that it does have a direct affect - on us.

She replied that she'd be happy to hear more about that - we'll do our best to oblige.

Overall, color me impressed: she only took office in January and, as much as I hate to admit it, health insurance is not her only raison d'etre. Hopefully, we'll see more proactive initiatives out of Columbus, especially in the fight against ObamneyCare©.
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