( – promoted by DocHoc)
Before long, voters in Oklahoma will be asked to approve an amendment to the State Constitution allowing the Governor to appoint the State Insurance Commissioner (Senate Joint Resolution SJR1). Though there are pros and cons to consider, 39 states have already given their governors this authority and it seems sensible that Oklahomans do the same.
In studies conducted on this issue, findings indicate that appointed Insurance Commissioners are better qualified for the job and have greater accountability when money and the electoral process are removed from the equation. Those who run for election typically receive their campaign funds from insurance companies and thus become beholden to them. Further, without the burden of campaign fundraising, the commissioner has more time to devote to the job. Alas, this measure will come too late to benefit Oklahomans for the next several years.
Our present commissioner, John Doak, was elected on November 2nd in a Republican sweep. As is typical of campaigns against incumbents, Doak was long on criticisms of things he didn’t like–especially the President–and extremely short on substantial ideas that would make a difference to the citizens of this state. Doak states that he fought against federal health insurance reforms (whatever that means) and touted his experience as an insurance salesman and executive. Doak considers it a badge of honor that he opposed “ObamaCare,” the derisive term used by conservatives to skirt more substantial issues concerning insurance reform that is long overdue across the state and nation. And, Doak states that he’s a supporter of the NRA–whatever the heck that has to do with being a good insurance commissioner. One thing Doak deserves credit for is his willingness to largely fund his campaign from his own pocket. Few contributions were made by insurance companies–and of those, most were small independent agents.
All that aside, it is also interesting about what you will NOT find at Commissioner Doak’s campaign website. For instance, he makes no mention about meeting the needs of the people of Oklahoma–especially those who cannot get insurance due to present regulations which favor corporations over people (other than to state that he believes people should be able to purchase insurance across state lines). And, you won’t find any ideas about how Doak will represent the citizens of Oklahoma against unfair insurance practices. Doak is proudly “pro-market,” which for consumers mean, we have to put up with whatever arbitrary rules insurance companies want to enforce against us. The sad fact of it is, Doak’s website reads more like an insurance salesman seeking a position in the corporate home office than someone who is concerned about protecting the needs of his constituents across the state who must fight for every insurance benefit owed them on a daily basis.
Will the proposed legislative changes calling for the Governor to appoint the insurance commissioner change the problems with this present system? No, but at least we may have a fighting chance that the governor may appoint someone who views the job as one of regulation and consumer protection instead of selling more product and touting their pro-life and NRA credentials.
BLUE OKLAHOMA, ANYTHING BUT SAD.
Blue Oklahoma has been a part of the Oklahoma political blogging scene since 2006. It originally began as a progressive, diary-like site with a handful of contributors and still remains open to people who want to write liberal and center-left commentary. It also serves as a companion site for Kurt Hochenauer's Okie Funk blog, which has been part of the news media here since 2004.
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