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The Associated Press November 30, 2010, 10:49AM ET

Wash. insurance commissioner wants more power

The Washington state insurance commissioner wants to consider some companies' cash surpluses before approving the rates they charge.

That's one of the requests Commissioner Mike Kreidler has for state lawmakers when they convene in January.

The power to consider surpluses would apply to nonprofit health insurers, who make up most of the health market in Washington. Kreidler said some firms have built up hundreds of millions of dollars in surpluses while seeking double-digit rate increases.

Kreidler also wants to give consumers more access to the information behind health insurance rates, including how much goes to profit, medical expenses and administrative costs.

Premera Blue Cross spokesman Eric Earling said it's a bad idea because surpluses ensure financial stability for customers. And he said it's unfair to leave out for-profit insurers.

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