Insurance Commissioner Continues To Push for Rate Regulation Measure
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (D) is continuing to advocate for a bill (AB 52), by Assembly members Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), that would give him the authority to block health insurance rate hikes deemed excessive, the Palm Springs Desert Sun reports.
Jones lobbied for the bill on Monday at an annual meeting of the Congress of California Seniors in Cathedral City (Walsh, Palm Springs Desert Sun, 9/27).
Background on Legislation
Existing state law allows the California Department of Insurance to review rate increases proposed by health insurers, but regulators cannot reject rate hikes deemed excessive.
AB 52 would require insurers to receive approval from regulators before raising rates. If officials at CDI or the Department of Managed Health Care findÂ a rate hike proposal to be "excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory," they could reject the proposed increase.
AB 52 passed the Assembly but was shelved in the Senate. Feuer said the bill's advocates will continue to generate support for the measure in advance of next year's legislative session (California Healthline, 9/6).
Debate OverÂ Bill
Jones said the bill could "save Californians a significant amount of money in the future."
Henry Lacayo -- president of the Congress of California Seniors -- said he supported Jones' efforts to regulate premium increases particularly because seniors have been "disproportionately" affected by the economic downturn.
The bill is opposed by the health insurance industry, the California Hospital Association and the California Medical Association.
Insurers contend that allowing rejection of rate hikes will not address the underlying problems in the health care system, including escalating health care costs, efforts to cover people without insurance and declining government reimbursement for Medicare and Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 9/27).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.