Outgoing Nebraska Senator to Head Insurance Commissioner Group

Retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) is moving from the Capitol to the association circuit, where he will take over as president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
by | January 22, 2013

Retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) is moving from the Capitol to the association circuit, where he will take over as president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Nelson, who also served as Nebraska's governor for two terms in the 1990's and headed the state insurance department before that, will represent state insurance commissioners nationwide in the role, NAIC said in a statement announcing the move on Tuesday. The outgoing senator, whose term ended earlier this month, decided last year not to seek reelection.

“Senator Nelson’s impressive credentials and deep knowledge of state insurance regulation are simply unmatched,” Jim Donelon, NAIC president and Louisiana Insurance Commissioner, said in a statement. “His rare and valuable combination of experience in insurance and government will be a tremendous asset to our organization."

NAIC will have an important role to play in Washington, D.C., as state implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues. The group has taken an active interest in health insurance exchanges, even releasing a draft bill for state legislatures to consider, as well as the law's various insurance reforms that its members will be expected to enforce.

Nelson already has a notorious history with the federal health reform law. He was the focus of the so-called "Cornhusker Kickback", $100 million in Nebraska Medicaid funding reportedly included in the law by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to win Nelson's vote. The earmark was widely criticized by Hill Republicans and eventually removed before the ACA was passed. Nelson still voted for the law.

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