ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- State Insurance Superintendent John Franchini was selected Wednesday to remain as New Mexico's top insurance regulator when his office becomes an independent governmental agency next month.
A nine-member committee named Franchini to serve as insurance superintendent for a term that starts July 1 and expires Dec. 31, 2015.
Franchini has managed the state Insurance Division in the Public Regulation Commission since August 2010. However, voters approved a constitutional amendment last year to remove oversight of the insurance industry from the five-member elected PRC, which in the past selected the insurance superintendent.
The newly independent office will regulate insurance rates and policies.
A state law established a committee, with its members appointed by the governor and Legislature, to hire the superintendent of insurance. The panel also can fire the regulator for incompetence, willful neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.
Franchini will be paid $101,000 a year.
Chris Krahling, chairman of the nominating committee, said Franchini "brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and professionalism to this position."
"He has demonstrated a commitment to ethically protecting consumers while ensuring that the insurance industry is treated fairly and remains financially healthy and competitive in New Mexico. John will provide important leadership and insight as the state implements the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," Krahling said in a statement.
The insurance superintendent's office will approve rates for insurance plans that will be offered to uninsured New Mexicans through a state-run health insurance exchange that is being established.
Franchini and four other insurance and health care officials were interviewed by the committee for the regulatory job. Other candidates included Milton Sanchez, who directs the Office of Health Care Reform in Gov. Susana Martinez's administration and was the New Mexico Retiree Health Care Authority's executive director from 1990 to 2005.