"I am currently serving my third term as Mississippi’s 11th Commissioner of Insurance and State Fire Marshal. I bring extensive business knowledge and experience to the office combined with 15 years of service in the Mississippi House and Senate.
As an active member of the NAIC, I serve on numerous committees, task forces and working groups. Among the issues I’m involved in addressing are examination oversight, accounting practices, producer licensing, health insurance and managed care, senior issues, catastrophe and property and casualty insurance.
As Commissioner, I’ve been honored to be inducted into the Insurance Hall of Fame at my alma mater, Mississippi State University. I’ve also received the Distinguished Service Award from the University of Mississippi Risk Management and Insurance program and its Professional Society. I have been named one of the top insurance professionals by Insurance Business America Magazine and was named a Healthcare Hero by the Mississippi Business Journal and have received the MS Rural Health award.
I serve on numerous community development entities and corporate boards and am a proud Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow. I am a veteran of the United States Army, having served in Vietnam. My wife, Mary, and I have been married for 52 years. We have three children and eight grandchildren."
Why are you running for Commissioner of Insurance?
"I’m running for reelection to continue protecting insurance consumers. As an active member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and a state regulator, I’ve served on numerous committees and task forces. I also closely monitor decisions made in Washington that affect our great state, with Mississippians best interests in mind.
Since taking office, I’ve addressed many issues including accounting practices, health insurance and managed care, senior issues, catastrophe and property and casualty insurance. Being a former business owner has directed many of my opinions on policy. In recent months, I’ve taken a special interest in the changes being made regarding Short Term duration policies and Association Health Plans (AHP) which can help thousands of Mississippians obtain quality, affordable health coverage with more options and affordable pricing.
Balance billing continues to be another issue I’m concerned about, especially when it comes to out-of-network air ambulance providers. They routinely “balance bill” patients the difference between the carrier’s payment and the total billed charge. This is particularly a problem in rural areas.
These are the same rural areas where five hospitals have closed since 2010. Many others have filed for bankruptcy, leaving Mississippians miles from the care they need. It is vitally important to have quality healthcare in these communities because successful economic development rests on the backs of men and women who are healthy, able to work and want to be here. For that reason, I’ve made sure that in cases where a hospital has closed, other healthcare providers in nearby cities and towns are covered under existing insurance policies.
Under the umbrella of the Mississippi Insurance Department I also act as State Fire Marshal and, through the State Fire Marshal Office (SFMO) staff, investigates all fires called to our attention. Unfortunately in 2018 there were 80 fire deaths statewide – 75 of which were investigated by the SFMO. What’s most upsetting is that these deaths could have been prevented. To combat these deaths, the SFMO procured grant money to buy more than 23,000 smoke alarms to be distributed to city and country fire departments, going straight to the residents who need them most.
The good news on the fire front is that, during the 2019 Legislative session, $3.5 million was approved for the Rural Fire Truck Program and Supplemental Rural Fire Truck Program. That money will buy new fire trucks for communities throughout the state. Twenty fire trucks have already been bought and are in use - which results in faster response times and improved fire ratings.
My experience in the State Senate and cooperation with other state leaders is resulting in measurable changes in our state. I want to see through the work that I started 12 years ago by gaining reelection as Commissioner of Insurance. My office has recouped more than $25 million in the past 10 years for consumers. My staff answered more than 13,000 emails and phone calls last year from consumers in need and I’m happy to help you anytime. "