Health care advocate Deborah Senn, Washington’s first woman insurance commissioner, dies at 72

Deborah Senn, Washington’s very first female coverage commissioner who was recognized as an advocate for health and fitness justice, died at 72 on Friday, her spouse Rudi Bertschi verified.

Senn was remembered as a tenacious buyer advocate who stood up for men and women from coverage providers. She was regarded for getting personally included in the cases of persons becoming denied perhaps lifesaving professional medical treatment. She also sponsored legislation ending insurance discrimination versus domestic-violence victims and was an advocate for Holocaust victims denied insurance plan rewards.

In the course of her tenure as insurance policies commissioner, Senn put in put rules intended to pace up insurance coverage companies’ managing of environmental cleanup promises.

Senn was the initial female to be elected insurance commissioner of Washington, defeating incumbent Richard Marquardt in 1992. She was reelected in 1996.

“She preferred to support men and women get access to economical and detailed health and fitness coverage. That is why she initial ran,” Bertschi mentioned.

Her subsequent bids for elected workplace had been unsuccessful, dropping to Maria Cantwell in the 2000 Democratic main for the U.S. Senate and to Rob McKenna in the 2004 basic election for Washington attorney basic.

She depicted that challenging-fought marketing campaign for attorney standard in a a single-girl theater manufacturing termed “Until the Last Dog Dies” in 2009.

Senn’s difficult-charging design drew criticism, even from within just her possess bash. But customer advocate and political prospect Ralph Nader termed her “the ideal coverage commissioner in the U.S., hands down,” in a profile in Seattle Weekly for the duration of her marketing campaign for Senate.

Greg Scully, who labored on Senn’s campaign for insurance plan commissioner in 1992 and became her main deputy coverage commissioner, reported Senn reworked the office into a proactive watchdog and worked from a belief that governments could do fantastic for ordinary folks.

On the day of her swearing in, the condition was struck by a fierce windstorm that knocked out ability and brought about problems. Senn sprung into action and saw that men and women experienced assist.

A couple of yrs later on, a series of fires in Central Washington destroyed residences, and Senn despatched a crew directly there to enable men and women method promises, an unheard-of shift for the government business at the time, Scully said.

“We didn’t just sit there waiting for them to make a mobile phone contact to us,” he mentioned.

Scully described Senn as a wise, hard and honest commissioner who also had a marvelous sense of humor and cared deeply for her team.

For someone’s birthdays, promotions or retirements, Senn would study a “top 10” list in the design and style of the “Late Display with David Letterman” and present them with a framed copy. If a team member bought unwell or shed a relatives member, Senn would fall every little thing to phone them or cease by their desk, Scully said.

Soon after leaving office environment, she encouraged emerging democracies on insurance policies regulation as a specialist for the U.S. Section of Treasury, in accordance to a Legacy Washington profile of Senn posted on the Washington secretary of state’s website. She also taught overall health care legislation at Loyola College, Bertschi said.

Deborah Mandel Senn was born in Chicago on March 8, 1949. She attended the College of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Loyola University Chicago College of Law. She was married to Bertschi and moved to Washington in 1984.

She was energetic in several athletics, including hiking, cycling and snowboarding, and was a passionate lover of baseball, soccer and tennis. Senn was also active in the Jewish assistance organization B’nai B’rith and her local Jewish neighborhood. Senn and her partner also bred and raised Vizsla canine.

She died at Swedish Healthcare Heart from problems related to pancreatic cancer, Bertschi stated. Senn is survived by her husband, Bertschi, a brother and a sister.