Governor Tom Vilsack has named a new state insurance commissioner. Susan Voss has been the deputy commissioner since 1999 and has worked for the state for over a decade. Voss says one of her top priorities is to expand health insurance coverage to uninsured families. The governor’s challenged the insurance office to come up with new ways to provide health insurance to people who want to buy it. Voss has assembled a “working group” of insurance company executives and agents to see if they can offer lower-cost healthcare plans for families who aren’t covered through work. She’s put together a working group of industry officials and agency staff, to look at ways to provide insurance to consumers that could meet their needs, some low-cost way to give them protection they’re looking for. Voss is also serving on a working group that’s trying to figure out how to lower the cost of medical malpractice insurance for doctors. Voss says Iowa has good insurance providers, but not enough of them to provide competitive prices. The office has sent a letter to companies that used to operate in Iowa — asking why they left, and what would have to change to bring them back. She hopes the responses will help the state craft ways to bring the insurance industry back. Last spring, the Iowa Legislature tried to lower malpractice insurance costs by capping or limiting the amount of damages juries could award in a lawsuit. But Governor Tom Vilsack vetoed that legislation, saying it would have little impact on the cost of insurance and was unfair to patients who were injured by a doctor’s error. Voss replaces outgoing insurance commissioner Terry Vaughn, who resigned last month to take a job at Drake University.
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