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Health insurance, class actions top state regulators' agenda. (Briefing).

Health insurance and class-action lawsuits will be key issues in 2003 for state insurance regulators, according to the newly elected leaders of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

"Health insurance will be front and center this year," said Mike Pickens, the Arkansas commissioner, who was elected president of the NAIC at its Winter National Meeting in San Diego.

Pickens said he wanted to investigate what the drivers of health-care costs are.

"You've got increasing medical costs, increasing pharmaceutical costs, increased utilization--all increasing much higher than the rate of inflation. There's no relief in sight, and it's our responsibility as regulators to shine the spotlight on what the problems are and offer up some market-oriented solutions," Pickens said during a press briefing. "I would love to see universal health care as our goal, but by universal health care I mean providing everyone with an option they can live with. I don't mean single payer, one-size-fits-all."

Also, the NAIC plans to focus on class-action lawsuits, such as the after-market-parts lawsuit that State Farm continues to fight in appellate court. Pickens said he'd like to establish a special working group to look into the class-action lawsuits.

"We are concerned about the usurpation of our authority," Pickens said. "One thing I'd really like to see us do is work with the state and federal judges' associations to let them know what the cost impact is for consumers and investors for some of this class-action litigation. Again, that's a situation where we can shine a spotlight. I'm not sure we can come up with solutions to all the problems, but we can tell them what the problems are."
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Title Annotation:National Association of Insurance Commissioners
Comment:Health insurance, class actions top state regulators' agenda. (Briefing).(National Association of Insurance Commissioners)
Publication:Best's Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2003
Words:273
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