McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

October 13, 2010

Insurance commissioner candidates debate regulations, health care

OKLAHOMA CITY — Democrat Kim Holland faces first-time candidate Republican John Doak in her run for a second full term as the state’s insurance commissioner.

Holland, who first was appointed to the office in 2005, said she is campaigning on a message of crafting responsible regulations and performing better insurance education outreach. Doak, who worked for several insurance firms, said he is entering politics to push conservative issues, such as removing red tape and downsizing government, to make the office more efficient.

Experience

· Doak spent his more than 20 years in the insurance industry in roles as an agent and an executive, including tenures with Marsh, Aon Risk Services, HNI Risk Services and Ascension Insurance. Doak said his diverse background allows him to see how insurance policies affect both customers and members of the industry.

“I’ve worked with people from talking over the dinner table to talking in the board room,” he said. “I’m a businessman and an insurance man, and I am not a career politician.”

· Holland was appointed insurance commissioner by Gov. Brad Henry in 2005 and was elected to a full term in 2006. Before her public service experience, she worked in the insurance industry and often specialized on health-care insurance.

“I worked in that field for 25 years,” she said. “What I bring to the table is that I have worked with consumers by sitting across from someone and helping them determine their exposure to risks – whether it be to themselves, their family or their business – and then finding the right product for them.”

Health-care insurance

· Doak said opposing the federal health-care reform legislation would be his No. 1 priority in office. He said he would work with Republican state and federal leaders to “repeal and replace” the bill.

“Oklahomans don’t want these federal mandates,” he said. “Insurance premiums are rising and it will be costly because it decreases competition.”

· Holland said she is concerned about the new health-care law because it takes regulation powers away from the state, which she said is more capable of doing the job than the federal government. She supports lawsuits to challenge the constitutionality of the health-care reform. In addition, she said she would work with the state’s federal representatives to potentially modify the law or give the state more flexibility to regulate health care insurance.

“I am very concerned about the cost,” she said. “I don’t believe it can be sustained in the long haul the way it currently is drafted.”

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