Saturday, January 19, 2008

Why Kriedler Needs To Go

As if he hasn’t already done enough damage abusing his office and betraying the public trust, State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is back requesting legislation to restore his ability to regulate individual health insurance rates.

In exchange for a pledge from the four carriers left doing business here to stay in this market, Kriedler’s authority over individual health plans was jerked away by the Legislature in 2000 in a deal meant to salvage the state’s individual health insurance market.

Yet astonishingly, Kriedler recently had the cojones to say, “Eight years have passed since this law took effect. Meanwhile, the carriers are making record profits, and consumers have seen their rates jump an average of 16 percent per year.”

And the point is? Had Kriedler not literally regulated insurers right out of the state, we’d have more competition — which always means lower rates.

Kriedler’s proud of being blatantly anti-business. Endorsing R-67, and acting as its public mouthpiece, supporting a measure with a definite financial impact on the companies he is elected to regulate, wasn’t just a major ethical conflict of interest — it was flat out wrong.

Another example of his so called “leadership:” Title insurance companies can no longer donate to non-profit community organizations without risking a minimum $10,000 fine. Kriedler went as far as fining one title insurance company for sending flowers to the funeral of one of its clients who passed away. Did he think the client would be unduly influenced to send future business their way from the great beyond, or what?

And let’s not forget the KPS giveaway. Kriedler “sold” KPS — which was profitable and well on the road to full financial recovery — to his former employer, Group Health in a slight-of-hand deal where no real money actually changed hands. Not much of a conflict of interest there, is there?

Kriedler is also real big on abusing the power of his office via the press release process to further inflate his ego. We must receive at least two press releases a week extolling Kriedler's political position on various matters. This was especially blatant during the R-67 campaign.

The bottom line is that its time for a new Insurance Commissioner — one with ethics — and certainly one who understands Economics 101.

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