Insurance public hearing to add consumers to insurance exchange board

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Today, the Insurance and Real Estate Committee held a public hearing on HB-5013 – a very weak bill that would have added only one, narrowly defined consumer advocate and one small business person to the exchange but not before July 1st. It also would have given the State Health Care Advocate a vote But again not until July 1st – safely after all the important decisions have been made. The Board has been criticized for having three members representing insurance interests and no voting consumer representatives. The Board is now choosing a CEO and a team of other senior management (at eye-popping salaries) and considering whether to cede the small business exchange toCBIA. Many people, including consumers, advocates, brokers, small businesses, providers and labor representatives, spoke to the need for at least two consumer reps and two more small business people on the Board. Speakers also emphasized that the CEO being hired should be independent of the insurance industry, to help build some credibility for the exchange among the people who will rely on it for affordable coverage in 2014 when the individual mandate becomes effective. Speakers also strongly opposed allowing CBIA to run any part of the exchange. CBIA has lobbied against state and national reform in the past; handing the exchange to opponents of reform invites failure. Speakers also asked for the legislature to clarify that the Ethics Commission enforces conflict of interest provisions in the original law, specifically excluding Board members affiliated with insurance companies.
Ellen Andrews