Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) issued the following statement in response to the Administration’s proposed rule-making implementing the rate review provisions in the health reform law:
"The health insurance rate review regulations announced by the Department of Health and Human Services today will help protect consumers from unreasonable rate hikes like the 39 percent premium increase that Anthem Blue Cross proposed in California earlier this year. A review of that proposal revealed that Anthem used flawed math to calculate the rate increase, which would have forced some consumers to cancel their policies as the company made historic profits.
These new regulations will help to check the unprecedented profit-making of the health insurance sector by requiring companies to provide justification for double-digit rate increases that many propose. Over the past decade, family health insurance premiums more than doubled, growing a shocking 130 percent, while workers’ hourly earnings rose by only 38 percent and inflation rose just 29 percent. This is unacceptable, and more must be done to protect health insurance consumers.
Establishing these regulations is a good first step, but I believe both the Administration and Congress must go further. That is why I intend to reintroduce my Rate Review Legislation in the first days of the next Congress. This legislation will give states the authority to not only review rates, but also to block or modify rates they find unreasonable. I believe there needs to be a federal fallback in states that lack legal authority, capacity, or resources to conduct strong rate review. In states where the Insurance Commissioner is not equipped to review, modify, and block unreasonable rates, my legislation would grant the Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to do so."