Gazette opinion: Lindeen has helped protect Montana consumers

2012-09-27T00:10:00Z 2013-02-21T22:54:13Z Gazette opinion: Lindeen has helped protect Montana consumers The Billings Gazette
September 27, 2012 12:10 am

Monica Lindeen gets thousands of complaints as Montana's state auditor. Resolving complaints is an important part of the job for the auditor, who is actually the commissioner of securities and insurance.

Last year, Lindeen and her staff recovered $4.7 million for policy holders.

The office oversees the Insure Montana program that makes health insurance affordable for 1,497 small Montana businesses to offer it to 7,675 employees and dependents. Lindeen is responsible for the high-risk insurance plan offered to Montanans who can't get regular insurance because of pre-existing health problems. That plan and a similar, but smaller, federally funded plan are covering 4,340 Montanans who otherwise would be uninsurable.

As commissioner of securities, Lindeen has worked to educate investors, to prevent and stop fraud.

Her office also assists small Montana businesses to raise equity capital by guiding them through regulations and striving to simplify the process. In three and a half years, the office has helped businesses create more than $43 million in equity capital offers, Lindeen said.

Lindeen recently took action when she learned that part of a class-action settlement was going to revert to the insurance company because most Montanans in the class hadn't claimed their money. As a result, several other states joined Montana in objecting to the settlement and the class action attorneys agreed to pay $1.2 million to a Montana charity. Lindeen was in Billings last week to present that check to the Montana Legal Foundation, which provides legal assistance for people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer.

As a member of the State Land Board, Lindeen brings a Yellowstone County perspective. She has supported oil and coal leases.

"I understand how important these jobs are for southeast Montana," she said.

Before she was elected state auditor, Lindeen served eight years in the Legislature, where she sponsored bills that created the Economic Development Trust Fund and a workforce training program.

"I know how to work with both sides of the aisle," Lindeen said.

If voters decide to give her another four years, Lindeen expects to be at the 2013 session advocating for legislation that would allow Montana to try innovative patient-centered health care models and legislation to require health insurers to justify double-digit premium increases.

Lindeen's general election opponent, Derek Skees, a one-term state legislator, is passionate about national politics, but not well informed about the work of the state auditor.

We recommend that voters choose Lindeen. Let's keep her working for Montana another four years.

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