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State insurance commissioner gets national post

State insurance commissioner gets national post

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Ted Nickel, Wisconsin’s insurance commissioner, has been named vice chairman of a National Association of Insurance Commissioners committee for states not pursuing their own health insurance exchanges.

The 2010 federal health reform law says states must set up exchanges for some people to buy private insurance, in many cases with federal subsidies, or the federal government will run exchanges for the states.

The commissioners committee, formed last week, is for states not implementing their own exchanges or waiting to decide until after the November elections, said state insurance commissioner spokesman J.P. Wieske.

Wisconsin is waiting to decide, he said Monday, and has many questions the committee will try to address.

“What is the intent of the federal government in setting this up?” Wieske said. “How much will it cost states, consumers, insurers?”

It’s also unclear what role the insurance commissioner’s office would play in regulating insurers under a federal exchange or how insurance companies would be approved for a federal exchange, Wieske said.

“States just jumping in right now are jumping in blindfolded,” he said.

States are required by Nov. 16 to tell the federal government if they plan to set up their own exchanges, which are expected to start enrolling people by the fall of 2013.

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