Saturday, January 8, 2011

New York's Cuomo Calls for Merger of Banking, Insurance Department

In his first state of the state address, New York’s new Governor, Andrew Cuomo criticized federal and state agencies for not better protecting consumers and called for a merger of the state’s banking and insurance department.

During his January 5 address, in which he detailed the serious economic peril the state is experiencing, he said that consumers had been “victimized” by Wall Street.
Cuomo said: “I spent four years fighting Wall Street corruption and I saw thousands and thousands of consumers victimized by the Wall Street corruption. And the question was where was Washington, where was Washington, where was Washington. Where were all the federal regulators? Where was the SEC and OFHEO that whole alphabet soup of federal regulators? Where are they?

“It was a good question. There was another question. Where was Albany? Where was our banking department? Where was our Insurance Department? Where was our Consumer Protection Agency? And yes, I believe Washington was primarily responsible but I also believe New York could have done a better job, frankly. I believe our organization, I believe our current organization is not effective because it is not organized the way Wall Street works any more.

“These divisions of insurance and banking and consumer protection don’t exist in the marketplace and much of the activity is falling between the cracks of our regulatory entities. We can have a win win. We can consolidate them into a department of financial regulation that better protects the consumer and the consolation will save the taxpayer money by reducing the cost of three separate organizations.“

Jones Enters, Hudson Exits

In addition to Cuomo’s announcement, several changes were announced in other states this week. In California, Dave Jones was sworn in as insurance commissioner replacing outgoing Steve Poizner.

In his inaugural address, Jones cited three priorities:

--implementation of federal health care reform;
--consumer protection; and,
--a competitive insurance market focused on solvency and new product choices such as “green property insurance.”

In an effort to advance these priorities, Jones announced a new senior leadership position, Deputy Commissioner for Health Care Policy and Reform within the department. The new deputy commissioner will help implement federal health care reform.

He also vowed to give the position of insurance commissioner and department of managed health care the legal authority to reject excessive health insurance and managed care premium increases. Currently, no authority exists, Jones explained.
Jones also promised to make sure there was legal authority to enforce the new federal health care reform law and at the end of his address signed an emergency regulation to enforce an 80 percent medical loss ratio established under the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And, Jones promised to work with the legislature to obtain the legal authority to enforce the 85 percent medical loss ratio for the group health insurance market established under PPACA.

After four years as Ohio insurance commissioner, Mary Jo Hudson resigned this week as did her Chief Policy Officer Doug Anderson.

The resignations come as Ohio Governor Ted Strickland leaves office to make way for his successor, John Kasich.

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