The institution of a federal office in charge of regulating the insurance industry is moving closer to becoming a reality, with just two points remaining to be worked out between U.S. Senators and House members charged with creating the final version of the reform bill.
The House and Senate versions have been largely spliced together, with agreements on several key points. The office, which would be placed within the U.S. Department of the Treasury, would be called the Federal Insurance Office.
The Treasury would be required to work jointly with the U.S. Trade Representative in securing international insurance agreements, and these would be subject to consultation with relevant congressional committees.
In addition, the new office would have the authority to request and collect market information from insurers, after determining if the information was available elsewhere.
Despite the agreements, the Senate has so far refused to compromise on two House requests regarding pre-emption state laws. The first involves a "de novo" judicial review of the insurance office's decisions regarding state laws requiring override. The second point of contention involves a House request to replace the Senate version's wider authority for international agreement with a version requiring regulations to be "substantially equivalent" to state regulation, which would severely limit the office's authority.