Assembly Passes Bill To Boost Oversight of Health Plan Rates
On Thursday, the state Assembly passed a bill (AB 52), by Assembly member Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), that would allow the state to regulate health insurers' premium hikes, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports (Walters, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 6/2).
Legislators voted 47-28 in favor of the bill after Republicans protested by walking off the floor.
In recent years, California health insurers have faced scrutiny for proposing dramatic rate increases, sometimes exceeding 50% in less than one year.
Although the state Department of Insurance has pressured some insurers to scale back or cancel their planned rate hikes, state regulators currently have no authority to actually block the increases (Colliver/Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/3).
AB 52 would allow the state insurance commissioner or the Department of Managed Health Care to reject health insurance rate hikes if they are considered excessive.
The bill would impose the regulatory oversight on health plans that cover approximately 17.5 million Californians (Weintraub, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 6/2).
The legislation now moves to the Senate.
Health Insurers Respond
The California Association of Health Plans opposes AB 52, saying that health insurance rate regulation will drive up health care costs.
Patrick Johnston, CEO of the trade group, said the legislation "offers no relief from the underlying cost pressures that drive up insurance premiums." Johnston added, "This bill will ultimately result in higher costs and less access to health services for Californians" (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/3).
On Thursday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on the passage of AB 52 (Bartolone, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 6/2).
For additional coverage of the Assembly action on the rate regulation bill, see today's Capitol Desk post.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.