Insurance Commissioner Candidate Dave Jones

 

This fall two state Assemblymen, who are barred by term limits from seeking re-election, Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) and Mike Villines (R-Clovis), are running to replace Republican Steve Poizner who chose to leave office to run for Governor.

The following review of each candidate's legislative records provided by IBA West's legislative advocacy firm, Norwood and Associates offers insight into each candidate's political views.

On the Democratic side, Dave Jones is serving his third term representing the 9th District in the California State Assembly. He currently chairs the Assembly Health Committee and serves on the Appropriations, Judiciary (former Chair) and Accountability & Administrative Review Committees. He has also previously served on the Committee on Agriculture and Committee on Utilities and Commerce. Jones is a graduate of DePauw University, Harvard Law School, and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He and his wife, Kim Flores, have two young children, Isabelle and William, and live in Sacramento.

Prior to his election to the State Assembly, Dave Jones served as a Sacramento City Councilmember for five and a half years. Before his election to the City Council, Jones worked for six years as a legal aid attorney with Legal Services of Northern California, providing free legal assistance to the poor. In 1995, Jones was one of only thirteen Americans awarded the prestigious and competitive White House Fellowship, and he served in the Clinton Administration for three years first as Special Assistant and then Counsel to United States Attorney General Janet Reno.

Dave Jones has had many significant legislative accomplishments in his six years in the State Assembly. During that time, he has obtained passage of over seventy bills. Some of these bills include:

AB 119- This bill prohibits health insurers from charging a premium, price, or charge differential because of the sex of specified individuals, even if the premium, price, or charge differential is based on statistical and actuarial data or sound underwriting practices. Chapter 365, Statutes of 2009.

AB 786- This bill would require the Director of the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) and the Commissioner of the California Department of Insurance (CDI) to jointly develop a system to categorize all health coverage products sold to individuals into five coverage choice categories that do all the following: a) include four choice categories applicable to both individual health plan contracts and individual health insurance policies, with a fifth category applicable only to health insurance policies under the jurisdiction of CDI.; b) reflect a reasonable continuum between the choice category with the lowest level of health care benefits and the choice category with the highest level of health care benefits; c) permit reasonable benefit variation within each choice category; d) for the four categories that apply to both health plan contracts and health insurance policies, requires DMHC and CDI to coordinate the development of the categories to ensure consistent interpretation across products and markets and ease of comparison for consumers; e) include, within each choice category, at least one standard health maintenance organization (HMO) and one standard Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) health benefit plan, each of which is the lowest benefit level in the choice category, except for the fifth category that only applies to health insurance policies, in which case there would be no standard HMO plan; f) establish, for each choice category, a maximum limit on annual out-of-pocket costs, (what consumers must pay directly) including, but not limited to, copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles for covered benefits; and, g) be developed by taking into account any written analysis provided by the University of California as requested in this bill. This bill is currently on the Inactive File of the Senate Floor.

AB 954- This bill would require the California Department of Insurance to use the Administrative Procedures Act when adopting rules, regulations, or insurance standards recommended by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. This bill was held under submission this year.

AB 1011- This bill would require the California Department of Insurance (CDI) to specifically collect data from insurers and to share it on its website related to the aggregate amount of insurer investments in green investments as part of their community development and community development infrastructure investments. The bill would also establish the Green Insurance Tax Credit. This bill is still under consideration before the Legislature this year.

AB 1218- This bill would have, subject to specified exceptions, required approval by the Department of Managed Health Care or the Department of Insurance of an increase in the amount of the premium, copayment, coinsurance obligation, deductible, and other charges under a health care service plan or health insurance policy. The bill would have required a plan or insurer to submit to the Department of Managed Health Care or the Department of Insurance, respectively, an application for a rate increase that would be effective on or after January 1, 2011, and would have required review of the application in accordance with regulations that each department would be required to adopt no later than January 1, 2011. The bill also would have subjected a rate increase that became effective January 1, 2009, to December 31, 2010, inclusive, to review by the appropriate department. This bill died in 2009.

AB 1521- This bill would have provided that health care service plans and health insurers shall not enter into compensation arrangements with agents or solicitors that vary the compensation paid to the agents or solicitors based on the health status, claims history, industry, occupation or geographic location of the individual or group purchasing the coverage.The bill would also have prohibited a plan or insurer from entering into an agreement with a solicitor that provides for or results in a different percentage of premium or compensation level paid to the solicitor if the solicitor, at the time of renewal of an individual or group contract, submits an application that results in the offer or purchase of coverage for a different health plan contract or health insurance policy with the same health plan or health insurer instead of renewal of the individual or group's existing plan contract or insurance policy. The bill also would have required a plan or insurer, or solicitor representing a plan or insurer, at the time of renewal of an individual health care service plan contract or individual health insurance policy, to notify the individual that application for a different contract or policy may result in an offer, an offer for a higher premium, or denial of coverage for that different contract or policy. Lastly, the bill would have prohibited an application for a different benefit design from changing the terms and conditions of the individual plan currently held by the applicant and would require a solicitor to identify the specific plans or insurers that the solicitor is offering. This bill was held under submission in 2009.

AB 1597- This bill would extend the California Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program sunset from 2001 to 2016 and to make various statutory changes to conform its operations to standard California administrative practices and facilitate greater efficiency and more customer-friendly operations for the public and producers alike. This bill is still under consideration before the Legislature.

AB 1868- This bill would invalidate any discretionary clause contained in a life and disability insurance policy and would prohibit the Insurance Commissioner from approving disability insurance policies that contain such a discretionary clause. This bill is still under consideration before the Legislature.

AB 1871- This bill would authorize private passenger automobile owners to make their vehicle available for use by a vehicle sharing program without impacting the owners' private passenger automobile insurance policy.Specifically, AB 1871 would provide that no vehicle insured as a private passenger motor vehicle in compliance with the Financial Responsibility Law shall be classified as a commercial or for-hire vehicle solely on the basis of the vehicle being used in a personal vehicle sharing program, provided that the revenue generated for the owner does not exceed the expenses of operating the vehicle. These expenses include lease or loan payments, insurance, parking, depreciation, fuel, maintenance, and costs associated with the computer hardware and software required by the vehicle sharing program. This bill would also require that the personal vehicle sharing organization maintain appropriate insurance for the periods that the vehicle is being used by any driver other than the owner. AB 1871 would define "personal vehicle sharing" as the use of privately owned vehicles by drivers other than the owner as part of a personal vehicle sharing program. This bill is still under consideration before the Legislature.

AB 1897- This bill would have repealed the authority of the Director of the Department of Finance to sell the assets of State Compensation Insurance Fund (State Fund) and would have specified that the Governor's appointees to the State Fund Board are subject to Senate confirmation.In addition, this bill would have required State Fund employees who transact workers' compensation insurance to be licensed by the Department of Insurance. This bill was held under submission this year.

AB 2411- This bill would define pet insurance as a separate line within the Insurance Code distinct from other miscellaneous lines. AB 2411 would establish required policy terms for all pet insurance policies serving California residents, regardless of situs of the contract, and would increase clarity for consumers on what their policy covers. This bill is still under consideration before the Legislature.

AB 2490 - This bill would require dispute resolution clauses applicable to disputes between an employer and its insurer under workers' compensation insurance policies to be submitted to the Insurance Commissioner in the policy form filing process and requires such policies to specify California law applies to such disputes and the venue for resolving them is to be in California. This bill is still under consideration before the Legislature.

Dave Jones has long been aligned with consumer attorneys and groups. As Insurance Commissioner, Jones proposes to use the post to clamp down on premium increases and prod insurers to put more of their investment dollars into green technology and clean energy. His pro-consumer rhetoric sometimes seems too adversarial to insurers, whose services are vital to Californians. But he also acknowledges that it can be too hard for insurers to introduce products in the state, and supports letting them respond faster to new opportunities.

For information on Assemblyman Dave Jones and his race for Insurance Commissioner, please click here.