(a) In addition to the authority established under the rules promulgated by the Director, the Office of Consumer Advocacy is authorized to:
(1) Institute, intervene in, or otherwise participate in, as an advocate for the public interest and the interests of insurance consumers, proceedings in state and federal courts, before administrative agencies or before the Health Care Authority, concerning applications or proceedings before the Health Care Authority or the review of any act, failure to act or order of the Health Care Authority;
(2) At the request of one or more policyholders, or whenever the public interest is served, to advocate the interests of those policyholders in proceedings arising out of any filing made with the Insurance Commissioner by any insurance company or relating to any complaint alleging an unfair or deceptive act or practice in the business of insurance;
(3) At the request of one or more third-party claimant who does not have legal representation at a hearing on his or her claim, or whenever the public interest is served, to advocate the interests of those third-party claimants in proceedings arising out of any filing made with the Insurance Commissioner by any insurance company or relating to any third-party complaint alleging an unfair claims settlement practice;
(4) Institute, intervene in or otherwise participate in, as an advocate for the public interest and the interests of insurance consumers, proceedings in state and federal courts, before administrative agencies, or before the Insurance Commissioner, concerning applications or proceedings before the Commissioner or the review of any act, failure to act or order of the Insurance Commissioner;
(5) Review and compile information, data and studies of the reasonable and customary rate schedules of health care providers and health insurers for the purposes of reviewing, establishing, investigating, or supporting any policy regarding health care insurance rates;
(6) Exercise all the same rights and powers regarding examination and cross-examination of witnesses, presentation of evidence, rights of appeal and other matters as any party in interest appearing before the Insurance Commissioner or the Health Care Authority;
(7) Hire consultants, experts, lawyers, actuaries, economists, statisticians, accountants, clerks, stenographers, support staff, assistants and other personnel necessary to carry out the provisions of this section and sections sixteen and eighteen of this article, which personnel shall be paid from special revenue funds appropriated for the use of the office;
(8) Contract for the services of technically qualified persons in the area of insurance matters to assist in the preparation and presentation of matters before the courts, the Insurance Commissioner, administrative agencies or the Health Care Authority, which persons shall be paid from special revenue funds appropriated for the use of the office;
(9) Make recommendations to the Legislature concerning legislation to assist the Office in the performance of its duties;
(10) Communicate and exchange data and information with other federal or state agencies, divisions, departments or officers and with other interested parties, including, but not limited to, health care providers, insurance companies, consumers or other interested parties; and
(11) Perform other duties to effect the purposes of the Office.
(b) The provisions of this section do not apply to any filing made by an insurance company, or act or order performed or issued by the Commissioner, or complaint filed by a policyholder with the Commissioner prior to June 30, 1991. All proceedings and orders in connection with these prior matters shall be governed by the law in effect at the time of the filing, or performance or issuance of the act or order.
(c) Nothing in this section may be construed to authorize the Director to participate in the review and consideration of any rate filing made pursuant to this chapter.