The November election is coming up, so The Daily Tar Heel is breaking down every state and local office on the ballot, from governor to county commissioner. Here, we broke down who the North Carolina candidates are for commissioner of insurance.
North Carolina voters will elect either Wayne Goodwin or incumbent Mike Causey as commissioner of insurance.
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The commissioner of insurance oversees the N.C. Department of Insurance and serves as the state’s fire marshal.
Duties of the commissioner of insurance include regulating the insurance industry, investigating insurance fraud and handling insurance-related complaints. The department also houses the Office of the State Fire Marshal, which trains fire and rescue personnel and improves building codes.
Goodwin, a Democrat, served as commissioner of insurance for two terms in 2009-2016, and is running for a third term. Goodwin said he has 29 years of experience as an attorney fighting against greedy practices of insurance companies.
Causey, a Republican, was elected as commissioner of insurance in 2016. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army and has more than 25 years of experience in the insurance industry as a manager, supervisor and agency owner.
Goodwin said his number one goal if elected would be improving access to affordable health insurance and addressing imperfections in the Affordable Care Act.
“It is not a perfect law," Goodwin said. "When it was passed by Congress, it had some problems with it, and I believe on the state level — and as an advocate on the national level — our insurance commissioner should be seeking to improve the law and protect consumers.”
Goodwin said other aspects in his platform related to health care include making it a state law that all pre-existing conditions be covered under insurance and expanding Medicaid to provide more North Carolinians with health insurance.
In addition, Goodwin said he will fight to implement a state-based health exchange, which would bring several new health insurance companies to N.C., and increase competition and lower rates.
As an attorney and former commissioner of insurance, Goodwin said he has seen insurance companies set rates based on something innocuous, like zip code or the community someone lives in.
“We need a commissioner of insurance who understands that there are insurance companies and there are people who will unfortunately try and use other means to set rates, when it’s actually race discrimination,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin said if elected he would issue audits of insurance companies suspected of setting rates discriminatively. If the audit reveals evidence of setting rates unfairly, Goodwin said he would hold the company accountable through a fine or penalty.
Causey said because the Affordable Care Act is a federal law, it’s not his call whether to keep it or get rid of it. He said his job is to help the 500,000 people who are covered through the act and to help people who need health insurance get covered under the act.
“I obviously favor competition and free markets more so than government control of insurance," Causey said. "But I think the Affordable Care Act has been a blessing to a lot of people.”
Causey said a key part of his platform is bringing more insurance companies to the state as a means to drive up market competition and keep rates low.
“During my term, I have worked hard to bring more insurance companies to North Carolina because I think people need more choices, and more companies competing for business helps keep rates low,” Causey said. “We want to continue to keep a healthy insurance climate and keep insurance rates low for the people.”
Another key focus area of Causey’s platform is to provide citizen-friendly service and make the department more accessible. Causey said last year alone, the department helped over 258,000 people who called the office with an insurance-related complaint or problem.
“When I took office, my main goal was to make the department more user-friendly,” Causey said. “No matter what the issue was, I wanted people to be able to call or email us and get immediate help.”
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