WA: OIC Oversight Bill Passes Legislature, Goes to Governor

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler

The Washington state Senate approved legislation on Tuesday that would increase the legislature’s and governor’s oversight of the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner.  Senate Bill 6458, which won approval in the House last Friday, is now on its way to Governor Jay Inslee.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reported today that a spokeswoman from the governor’s office said she did not know if Inslee planned to sign the bill.

If the bill becomes law, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler would be required to notify the House and Senate health care committees, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, the Health Care Authority and the governor before making any rule changes affecting the health insurance industry.  If any of those entities objected to the proposed rule changes, they could request a formal review process.

The bill passed the Senate on a 35-14 vote after passing the House on a 96-2 vote last week.

Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, was the bill’s lead’s sponsor in the Senate. She initially introduced legislation that would have eliminated the OIC and replaced it with a 10-member board of political appointees.

Becker has criticized Kreidler for his decision last fall to not allow insurance companies to extend health plans that do not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

An amendment was adopted in the House healthcare committee, chaired by Rep. Eileen Cody, that substantially changed the language of the bill.

Kreidler had opposed the earlier version, but his office said he is not opposing the version that the legislature approved.

“We don’t have any issues with the bill as it was passed,” OIC spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said in an email. “It’s not requiring us to do anything we don’t already do.”