AirTalk for April 4, 2013

Is Consumer Watchdog the wrong hire for insurance commission?

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Is Consumer Watchdog the right choice for the Insurance comminsion?

In response to rising health insurance rates, California's insurance commissioner has been reviewing rate hikes with the help of a consumer advocacy organization. As reported in the L.A. Times, the insurance industry is complaining that using Consumer Watchdog for government work creates political and financial conflicts of interest.

A spokesperson with the state's Insurance Department tells KPCC that Consumer Watchdog's analysis is just one piece of information their department uses. Governance expert Jessica Levinson says, "While I'm not saying [Consumer Watchdog] won't do a good job, in a perfect world, you've have someone who doesn't have skin in the game."

Why does the Department of Insurance have to rely on analysis of outside groups? Is there anyone else who could fulfill that role? Does using a consumer-advocacy group help balance the influence of analysis from health-company lobbyists?

Guests:

Janice Rocco, Deputy Commissioner of Health Policy, California Department of Insurance

Jessica Levinson, Professor, Loyola Law School and governance expert


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