New Mexico’s Superintendent of Insurance Alice T. Kane identified some issues for her office to work on as she moves forward in her new position as the top insurance regulator in the state during her presentation to the interim Legislative Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee on Thursday.
Those challenges range from climate change to billing and cybersecurity.
Kane, who started her position in mid-June, said she couldn’t offer the presentation she wanted because of a malware attack on the department’s computer system that began earlier this week. She said her department has notified the FBI but that they don’t know yet if the cyber attack had extracted any data.
The OSI’s core function is to review insurance rates and make sure they are “fair and reasonable.” Because insurance providers are primarily regulated by state law, the OSI holds enforcement capability and responsibility.
Kane discussed some of her most pressing challenges moving forward.
One is that some insurance companies have left the state of California because of the intensity of wildfires as climate change worsens, she said.
“We want to not only keep companies in the state but make sure they’re offering insurance in more risky areas. We’ll be back with some concrete suggestions in that area,” Kane said.
She said New Mexico “is a leader in health insurance and protections and consumer benefits.”
“That’s a place we want to stay,” she said.
She said that one challenge is that New Mexico is a small market for insurance companies. She said that because of some concern around that the agency had pulled back on enforcement, she said.
She said that if something “is on the books, you have to follow it.”
“That’s my enforcement,” she said.
Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, asked Kane if she had thought of any ideas about how to retain insurance companies in New Mexico despite its being a small market for the industry.
Kane said she would work on coming up with ideas and agreed that “it is a challenge.”
Kane introduced herself by giving a run down of her work history. She trained as an attorney and then built a 50-year career working for companies in the industry.
State Sen. Moe Maestes, D-Albuquerque, said Kane is the first attorney to hold the position in a long time and that he hopes she will bring advice and policy recommendations and policy initiatives to the legislature to improve public policy.
Kane said that her office will be coming to the legislature with policy initiatives but that won’t likely happen until the 2025 legislature.
Another problem Kane identified is that when a medical provider moves from one insurance network to another, the process for that provider to receive credentialing can take up to six months. She said this can sideline a provider and that the credentialing process shouldn’t take longer than 30 days. She said OSI is working on changing this.
She also said the OSI issued an emergency order on September 15 to “open up insurance access for the mental health crisis in this state and around the country.”
“For companies we regulate, we are eliminating prior authorizations, full access and no out-of-network charges, balance billing and cost sharing,” she said.
She said the need for prior authorizations for medical providers can require two-to-three days of administrative work and is “turning into a bureaucracy instead of a cost saving.”
Kane said that since June she has been working on building her office. She expects three attorneys to retire soon, some positions require very specialized knowledge and are hard to fill. She said she would likely have to hire some positions remotely and at least one position is being outsourced.