Yesterday, SHIFT reported on the allegations of corruption surrounding the Washington State’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC).
Patricia Petersen, whose task it is as the OIC’s Chief Presiding Officer to make “impartial, independent decisions on cases” the public brings against the OIC, claimed that Deputy Insurance Commissioner James Odiorne repeatedly pressured her to rule in favor of the OIC over the course of eight months. Petersen wrote in her complaint that, “beginning in September… Odiorne began pressuring her to decide cases the way Kreidler wanted.” According to Petersen, Odiorne “made it clear that he would evaluate her on whether her decisions support the commissioner’s position.”
Following her complaint, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler removed Petersen from all cases and placed her on paid leave. Kreidler refused to comment on whether or not he objects to the behavior Petersen describes as inappropriate influence by Odiorne.
Odiorne is not under investigation and continues to work at the OIC.
Yesterday evening, the OIC released a statement stating that Petersen was “removed from her position and was placed on paid leave last week” due to a “separate personnel matter which we cannot speak to at this time.”
Convenient that a professional with 19 years of experience as the OIC’s chief presiding officer and 9 years’ experience deciding “contested cases” before that is only just now going through “personnel” issues in the workplace that would force her to be removed from her cases and placed on leave. Nothing to do with a complaint of corruption she filed days before against Kreidler’s number two man…
Due to the implementation of Obamacare during the last year, Petersen’s cases have “grown increasingly contentious and high-profile, particularly those involving decisions as to whether insurers’ networks are adequate, and Kreidler’s role in that issue has increasingly come under fire.” One such contentious and high-profile case involves Seattle Children’s Hospital’s exclusion from insurers’ networks in order to keep costs down.
Kreidler’s desire to appear in command of the many Obamacare failures may explain the pressure placed on Petersen to decide on cases in favor of the OIC during the last eight months. Keeping up appearances, even at the expense of the public, is important to the left.