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Kreidler earns support; yes on SJR 8210

The final two Spokesman-Review endorsements cover the insurance commissioner’s race and a simple housekeeping measure related to redistricting.

Insurance Commissioner. When full-scale implementation of the Affordable Care Act occurred, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler was prepared. As a result, the state had one of the nation’s smoothest transitions to the new insurance market. Since then, he’s made sure insurance companies have complied with the many requirements of the federal law.

Kreidler, a Democrat seeking his fifth term, has also done a creditable job of keeping insurance premiums down, though pressure is mounting to raise them. The Obama administration announced Monday that rates could rise by double digits on the federally run exchanges (Healthcare.gov), a reflection of insurers who might have low-balled their initial premiums and found that covering new customers is more expensive than they figured. Washington runs its own exchange, Healthplanfinder, and insurers are seeking an average premium increase of 13.5 percent for 2017. The rates have not been finalized, but Kreidler points out that insurance rates were climbing even faster before the ACA was adopted.

Kreidler’s opponent, Republican Richard Schrock, says the new health care insurance market is collapsing and will disappear by 2018. He said the state should expand the network of providers that insurance companies must offer. Kreidler says tighter networks work to contain costs. Schrock, of Lynnwood, decided to file for the race at the last minute. He was the director of the state Department of Commerce under the last Republican governor, John Spellman, in the early 1980s. He is a part-time communications consultant and serves on a Snohomish County fire district commission.

Beyond health insurance, he says the state should crack down on insurance companies who aren’t meeting obligations. He referenced a “60 Minutes” broadcast that showed a systemic failure of life companies to pay beneficiaries when the policyholder dies. In the aftermath of Spokane’s windstorm, he says a public hearing should’ve been held to spotlight insurance companies that were dragging their feet on claims.

Schrock makes some good points, but we’re endorsing Kreidler. Consumers need his experience in dealing with the complex challenges ahead.

SJR 8210. This constitutional amendment would require the state’s bipartisan redistricting commission to produce its once-a-decade map 46 days sooner. This would give county officials more time to implement new boundaries. The amendment passed unanimously in the House and Senate, so it’s not a politically charged matter. Advanced computer programs make redistricting an easier task, so the earlier deadline is reasonable. We recommend adoption.


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