North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin was one of only three insurance commissioners on a key national task force who refused to endorse a plan that would weaken consumer protections in the new federal health care law.
This issue is complicated but critical.
The task force is part of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which is essentially a trade group of insurance commissioners across the country. Yesterday this task force considered a proposal that would undermine a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance companies to spend a certain percentage of premiums on health care instead of on executive salaries, lobbying, marketing, and insurance agent commissions.
The NAIC proposal would endorse the idea of removing agent commissions when calculating how much insurance companies spend on health care versus administrative costs. That means insurance companies could continue paying exorbitant commissions and passing the cost on to consumers in the form of higher premiums.
This motion passed yesterday, meaning that the task force backed the idea of allowing insurance companies to spend less on medical care and more on agent commissions. Insurance commissioners from Florida, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin all voted for the motion to weaken reform. Commissioners from West Virginia and Vermont voted against the proposal. Wayne Goodwin abstained.
Goodwin did not vote for or against the measure because he thinks that there should be some accommodation for agents without hurting consumers. Such a compromise is possible, but a few commissioners at the NAIC insist on pushing the worst possible proposal for consumers.
Goodwin was also one of the only commissioners on the task force who mentioned that he heard from consumers who object to the proposal.
This motion must still make it through several steps at the NAIC so let’s keep fighting. Thank Commissioner Goodwin for pushing a common sense compromise and tell him to help keep health reform strong.