I caught up with Mike Causey, Republican candidate for commissioner of insurance, while he was on his way to a speaking engagement DownEast in the big city of Washington (NC, that is).
Causey faces Richard Morgan in the July 17th GOP runoff election. The winner takes on incumbent Democrat Wayne Goodwin in November.
Causey, of Greensboro, did not have a positive outlook on today’s ObamaCare ruling by The Supreme Court:
“I was really disappointed. I don’t see HOW you could find any of that constitutional. Right now, it’s pretty unclear how all of this will shake out in the long run to affect the consumers at the state level.
I’m a big fan of taking power AWAY from government bureaucrats, letting people keep more of their money, and letting them have more choices. On the face of it, ObamaCare doesn’t appear to allow for ANY of that.”
Causey says one of the best ways to bring health care costs down is to open up the state’s insurance market to more competition. Right now, state government places serious limits on who can do business in North Carolina, and what products they can offer.
Causey says he has been perplexed lately by some gossip on the campaign trail accusing him of being “a lobbyist for the big insurance companies.”
State law requires that anyone speaking to legislators on behalf of a group register with the secretary of state as a lobbyist. Causey said he did that during the period of 2000-2001. The Greensboro Republican said he was approached by a group of small “mom-and-pop” auto glass and body repair shops who were frustrated by the coziness between big insurance companies and certain repair shops:
“I was helping small businesspeople who were frustrated by unfair practices by the insurance companies. Insurance companies were referring all of their claims to certain body shops they had contracts with. It didn’t matter what the insurance company’s customer wanted. They had to take their car wherever the insurance company told them to go.
These small business people knew of my expertise in the insurance field, and hoped that I could help them encourage state government to open this process up and make it more competitive. I was the furthest thing from a mouthpiece for insurance companies.”
Causey has decades of experience in the construction and insurance fields — two areas that interact quite a bit with the North Carolina Department of Insurance.
During 2000-2001, Causey and his clients worked hard to sell the Consumer Motor Vehicle Repair Act to the members of the North Carolina General Assembly:
“We didn’t have the money or the level of clout the insurance companies had. But we were determined, and ready and willing to work hard. ”
Causey said their hard work paid off in the form of compromise legislation that got signed into law by Governor Mike Easley. The compromise bill said that the insurance companies could still recommend body shops to their customers, but had to inform their customers that the ultimate decision on where to go was with the customers themselves.
Causey said the experience turned out to be bittersweet:
“On one hand, my clients and I got a lot of recognition for our accomplishment. We went up against the big guys and came away with a victory for consumers.
Unfortunately, no one in state government has been enforcing any of this. The state Department of Insurance COULD be putting some heat on the insurance companies to live up to the letter and intent of the law. But I haven’t seen it.”