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Posted by tonyb on March 17, 2003 at 8:07:12
GEORGIA GOVERNOR FIRES INSURANCE CONSUMER ADVOCATE
ATLANTA, Ga. - Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue's firing of the state's insurance consumer advocate is a step in the right direction toward streamlining the insurance process and reestablishing the insurance commissioner's office as the preeminent voice for Georgia insurance consumers. "Eliminating this extraneous, non-elected position will clarify the fact that Georgia's insurance commissioner is the state's real consumer advocate," said James S. Taylor, southeastern regional manager for the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII). The firing came yesterday when the governor fired Cathey Steinberg, the state's insurance consumer advocate, and another political appointee, both of which had ties to his predecessor, Governor Roy Barnes. The former governor appointed Steinberg, a Democrat who served in the General Assembly with Barnes, to the position after the position was created by the state legislature. Although the position has no power over insurance rate setting, it has the authority to intervene, request records, testify and comment on insurance-related legislation, and act as an interested third party in insurance-related litigation - a form of "de facto regulation," Taylor said. "This firing comes a day after Insurance Commissioner Oxendine announced the need to lay off 13 employees due to budget constraints," Taylor noted. "Perhaps the money saved from the consumer advocate position should be channeled into the insurance department, where it could do the most good."