Insurance commissioner: Regulates rates and services of insurance companies operating in Washington. Also regulates practices of agents and brokers. Four-year term. Salary: $86,580.
These are the questions The Times asked the candidates:
1. What would you do to make prescription drugs more affordable?
2. What would you do to make health insurance more affordable and available for individual consumers?
3. What changes are needed to protect insurance consumers' privacy?
Occupation: Deputy insurance commissioner for health policy
Education: B.A., political science, Seattle University; J.D., University of Puget Sound
Political history: Deputy insurance commissioner; attorney for state House of Representatives' program research office
Endorsements: Muckleshoot Tribe, National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, Classified School Employees
Campaign Web site: www.johnconniff.com
Campaign theme: Experience to get the job done.
1. I fully support congressional efforts to add prescription benefits to Medicare. I support the governor's efforts to design a discount drug program. I will prohibit unfair discrimination in drug benefits and I will protect consumers with drug benefits to prevent the denial of necessary drug treatment.
2. I will work with insurers, consumers, business leaders, health professionals and the Legislature to develop a simple and reasonable approach to health-insurance reform. I will foster a regulatory environment that is professional, predictable and fair. I will work to simplify regulation and reduce the costs of managed health care.
3. As deputy insurance commissioner I have led efforts to protect consumer privacy. As insurance commissioner, I will require insurers to: obtain permission before using information for marketing; restrict the use of information; allow consumers to limit the release of information; and protect information from unauthorized access.
Education: Undergraduate and D.D.S., University of Washington
Political history: Former Bellevue mayor and city council member, former president, Association of Washington Cities
Endorsements: Mainstream Republicans, Washington State Dental Association
Campaign Web site: www.dondavidson2000.com
Campaign theme: Fighting for your rights.
1. Find ways to cover the poor and the elderly through public-private partnerships involving government and private insurance. Allow pharmacies to pool resources for bulk purchasing without government interference.
2. Speed up process of allowing companies to offer new products. Change regulation to encourage competition to bring prices down and offer more choices. Use regulatory power to make certain insurance companies aren't overcharging.
3. Move to an "opt-in" system where information is shared if and only if the patient/consumer specifically allows it.
Occupation: Business owner
Education: B.S. in marketing, Ohio State University; M.B.A., Golden Gate University
Political history: Vice-president, Northside Republican Action Club
Endorsements: No response
Campaign Web site: None
Campaign theme: Curt signs the front side of paychecks.
1. Make it illegal to sell prescription drugs cheaper in foreign countries than the United States. Allow longer prescription periods (i.e., 3-6 month supply versus 30-day supply). List average sale prices on Web site. Tax credits/deductions for use of generics.
2. Allow insurance premiums to be tax-deductible or a tax credit. Allow individuals to join insurance associations/groups. Wider choice of plans and options for the consumer. Encourage higher deductible policies and more flexible use of premium dollars.
3. Patient Bill of Rights needs to be extended to cover all consumers. Standardize medical-request forms to ensure only pertinent information is forwarded to the intended party.
Occupation: Small business, political consultant
Education: Studied political science, philosophy, Kent State University
Political history: Commissioner, King County Water District No. 125
Endorsements: Washington Liberty Project, state Libertarian Party
Campaign Web site: www.MikeHihn.com
Campaign theme: Freedom works!
1. There are two prices involved: drugs and insurance. Deregulating health insurance will greatly increase the number of insured families. But drug prices would be beyond my control, and another candidate seems to agree. He would form nongovernmental buying co-ops. Great idea, but why must we elect him first?
2. Deregulate. Open your Yellow Pages. Compare the number of health insurers with the number of auto and home insurers. Then ask yourself which insurance is the most highly regulated - but offers the fewest choices, with out-of-control prices. As you can see, over-regulation is hazardous to your health.
3. Insurers have legitimate concerns regarding fraudulent health histories from applicants. But insurance applicants can now be forced to choose between living and lying when new jobs require them to change carriers. Deregulate for portable coverage.
Education: B.S., M.A. in public health, University of California, Los Angeles, Doctor of Optometry, Pacific University
Political history: Former state representative, U.S. representative; Northwest Power Planning Council member
Endorsements: Washington Conservation Voters, Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Washington Education Association
Campaign Web site: www.kreidler2000.com
Campaign theme: Mike Kreidler - A servant of Washington's people.
1. To reduce costs, I propose establishing a state prescription purchasing cooperative with voluntary membership. The cooperative is identical to prescription management in corporations. Volume discounts and rebates would be returned to participants - saving as much as 45 percent per prescription for seniors and the underinsured.
2. Reduce drug costs. Restore a competitive individual market. Expand the State's Basic Health Plan to insure those most difficult to cover - the poor. Simplify medical claims filings for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies so overhead costs are reduced. The objective is affordable, reliable coverage for all.
3. Personal data should be personal property. I support legislation to make it illegal to gather information for one purpose and use it for another, without the permission of the consumer. Rules must be issued to protect financial information taken from consumers by insurance companies.