Insurance executives, state insurance commissioners, and federal officials debated the role of the federal government in America’s state-based insurance regulatory oversight model at a National Journal event Tuesday underwritten by Zurich.
Rep. Ed Royce, a Republican from California who believes greater federal oversight could lead to lower prices for consumers, said America’s fragmented insurance regulatory system — governed by the states — will leave the United States behind as the global market presses ahead.
“I’ve seen the enormous frustration on the European side in the regulatory community,” Royce said. “I’ve seen the frustration that the Europeans have felt in dealing with state insurance commissioners who are not on the same page.”
On a local level, state-by-state regulation hurts consumers because their plans aren’t portable, Royce said. Congress is soon addressing the problem faced by the military — the inability of troops who transfer to a different base to carry their plans with them — but even children who go to college still have trouble, Royce said.
“Having attended working groups over the years on the question of insurance and compatibility across markets, I have watched that struggle in the U.S.,” Royce said.
Royce, along with Michael McRaith, the director of the Federal Insurance Office, delivered the keynote addresses at the event in The Hamilton in Washington.
McRaith said that the federal government already plays an important supervisory role in regulating the insurance industry, and that it makes sense for states to take the lead because state insurance departments provide important local support for consumers.
“We should be supportive of efforts to develop international standards and encourage a level playing field [for U.S. insurance companies],” McRaith said.
“We need to build on the strengths of the state system,” he said. “The federal government plays an important role, but we did not call for a federal regulator.”
National Journal‘s Nancy Cook, economic and domestic policy correspondent, moderated the event.
What We're Following See More »
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
Alexander Acosta was confirmed Thursday night as Labor secretary, officially filling out President Trump's cabinet on day 98 of his presidency. Nine Democrats joined every present Republican in voting to approve Acosta, with the final tally at 60-38. Trump's first choice for Labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination after taking criticism for hiring undocumented workers and for other matters in his personal life.
"Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) plans to introduce legislation today designed to help federal agencies update their aging technology—and this time, it has White House backing. Hurd worked alongside White House Office of American Innovation officials Reed Cordish and Chris Liddell in crafting and tweaking the legislation, and called their partnership an 'invaluable' part of the process."
"The State Department plans to cut 2,300 U.S. diplomats and civil servants—about 9 percent of the Americans in its workforce worldwide—as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presses ahead with his task of slashing the agency’s budget, according to people familiar with the matter. The majority of the job cuts, about 1,700, will come through attrition, while the remaining 600 will be done via buyouts."