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Thursday, May 13, 2010

NM PRC Rescinds Approval of BCBS NM Rate Hikes, Will Name Search Committee to Hire Insurance Superintendent

Lots of news from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) today. First off, be sure to read Bryant Furlow's excellent report on NMI about the PRC unanimously directing Interim Insurance Superintendent Thomas Rushton to rescind the Insurance Division’s controversial approval of a 21.3% hike for Blue Cross Blue Shield NM's individual policies -- and what that means. 

Rushton ended up recusing himself from the process, and expressed reluctance about revisiting the settlement. He assigned Deputy Insurance Superintendent Darlene Gomez to be the hearing officer in his stead for another look at the rate hikes. However, Commissioner Jason Marks -- who has been critical of the rate agreement -- suggested the possibility of replacing Rushton as interim superintendent with former insurance superintendent Don Letherer, The Commissioners agreed to meet with Letherer next week.

Also see Furlow's earlier piece on the recent to and fro on insurance regulation within the PRC.

Meanwhile, the PRC today approved a resolution establishing a search committee to help guide the selection process for New Mexico’s next superintendent of insurance. They sent out a press release about their decision (see below the break), touting the value of a committee approach in making the process more transparent. But will it? Note that the committee will include seven members representing insurance and related industries, as well as a co-chair from Quest. Is it a good idea to have entities regulated by the PRC or its Insurance Division calling the shots on who heads the Insurance Division?

Today's press release from the NM PRC:

The superintendent position – one of the most critical regulatory roles within state government – is vacant following the May 4 resignation of Morris J. “Mo” Chavez. State law (NMSA 1978, § 59A-2-2) dictates that the Commission has the duty and authority to appoint the superintendent.

The vacancy, Commissioners contend, provides the Commission with the opportunity to make transparent the agency’s hiring policy. The committee is the ideal vehicle to facilitate the Commission’s goal.

“Transparency is one of our primary goals with this effort,” Commission Chairman David W. King (Dist. 2) said. “This is an extremely important position and we’re committed to doing everything we can to ensure we get the best candidate to lead our Insurance Division. We look forward to working with this committee and are excited about getting input and recommendations.”

Commissioner Sandy Jones (Dist. 5) concurred and said he believes the diverse group will produce a quality pool of finalists for the position.

“With one of the most important positions in New Mexico government vacant, this Commission determined that involving representatives of industry, finance and consumer groups in the selection process is an important step in re-establishing the public’s trust with regard to hiring practices at this agency,” Jones said. “We want this process to be as open as possible.”

The committee will be composed of seven representatives from insurance and related industries, two appointees from each of the five elected Commissioners and co-chairs Fabian Chavez (a former Superintendent of Insurance) and Loretta Armenta (Qwest). The committee’s responsibilities include: reviewing all resumes and letters of interest submitted by applicants; interviewing applicants who meet minimum requirements established by the committee; calling references for those applicants who are deemed most qualified; conducting background checks and, no later than June 24, submit to the Commission the names and resumes of the five most qualified applicants.

The Commission expects to appoint a new superintendent of insurance by early July.

May 13, 2010 at 05:39 PM in Government, Healthcare, Regulation | Permalink


What about someone on the committee to represent consumers?

Posted by: charlotte | May 13, 2010 7:47:15 PM

Sounds like the commissioners are supposed to pick consumers but who knows who they will pick. Keep the companies being regulated out of the process, please.

Posted by: Not Good | May 13, 2010 7:52:54 PM