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New California Insurance Commissioner Will Help Set Up Health Exchanges

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The winner of California's insurance commissioner election will play a key role in setting up the state's new health insurance exchange. Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed legislation (AB 1602 and SB 900) to lay the foundation for the California Health Benefit Exchange, which will offer a marketplace of health insurance options for individuals and small businesses. The federal health reform law calls for the creation of such exchanges. The two leading candidates for California's insurance commissioner post -- Dave Jones (D- Sacramento) and Mike Villines (R- Clovis) -- are Assembly members whose terms end this year.

Where the Candidates Stand on Health Insurance Exchanges

Jones has emphasized the importance of proceeding carefully during the creation of California's health insurance exchange. He said, "If we don't design the health exchanges well, they'll fail because (insurers) will cherry-pick the market and leave only sick people in the exchange."

Villines has said he would support the exchanges as long as they: allow for health insurance transparency, foster competition, and maintain a safety net.

Jones' Stance on Other Health Issues

Jones has said that he will enforce new regulations under the federal reform law that require insurers to spend at least 85% of premiums on medical care. In addition, Jones previously supported legislation that banned price discrimination against women in the individual insurance market and an unsuccessful bill that would have mandated state approval of health insurance rate increases.

Villines' Stance on Other Health Issues

Villines has said the insurance commissioner's job is to protect consumers and help the economy by creating jobs. He said providing affordable health plans and other insurance products would provide the best protection for consumers. In addition, Villines has said he is willing to cross party lines to effectively implement provisions of the federal health reform law.

AP/San Jose Mercury News reports (Dillon, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 10/5).

Read more: http://www.californiahealthline.org/articles/2010/10/6/new-california-insurance-commissioner-will-help-set-up-health-exchanges.aspx#ixzz11dacNegO

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