Taking Action on Day One
By Dave Jones
California Insurance Commissioner
With my wife Kim and daughter Isabelle and son William at my side, I was honored to be sworn in as California's Insurance Commissioner on Monday. Thanks to everyone who supported my candidacy and to the voters who placed their confidence in me to lead this important consumer protection agency.
My overarching goal is to make the California Department of Insurance the strongest consumer protection agency in the nation.
I am determined to define my tenure as Insurance Commissioner by a single word: action. And so at my inauguration I took a number of immediate actions to protect consumers.
I issued an Emergency Regulation giving me the authority to enforce in California a critical element of federal health care reform-the new federal requirement that health insurers in the individual health insurance market put at least 80% of each premium dollar into health care instead of insurance company profits and overhead.
In issuing this emergency regulation, I declared my intention to implement federal health care reform here in California despite the efforts of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives to repeal or defund health care reform.
I established a new senior leadership position within the Department of Insurance -- Deputy Commissioner for Health Care Policy and Reform -- to assist me in implementing Federal health care reform. With this action, I elevated the Department's focus on health care policy and reform efforts.
In my inauguration speech, I announced three priorities:
1) Implementation of federal health care reform. This includes continuing my fight for the authority to reject excessive health insurance premiums, a critical missing piece of healthcare reform.
2) Protection of consumers.
3) Ensuring that California has competitive and viable insurance markets. We need to ensure that we have insurance markets where there is competition, that carriers remain solvent, and that we go after insurance fraud which hurts all of us.
Elections matter. Californians voted for an activist Insurance Commissioner.
At my inauguration I took action to protect seniors from being sold unsuitable annuity products. And I took action to help those who have lost loved ones and are beneficiaries of life insurance policies, including the families of fallen military personnel.
As a regulator should be, I will be fair and deliberate, but I will also be vigorous in my protection of California consumers. This will be a proactive Administration.
We will seek to improve what needs improving, enhance what needs enhancing and change what needs changing in the world of insurance.
Thanks again for giving me this incredible opportunity to lead this important consumer protection agency.
Dave Jones is California's Insurance Commissioner and former Assembly Member for the 9th District.