WellPoint/Anthem, California's largest health insurance company, postpones plan to hike up rates by up to 39 percent; Feinstein calls for Rate Authority to review unfair rate hikes
Apr 27 2010
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) today issued the following statement in response to news reports that Anthem Blue Cross of California, a subsidiary of WellPoint Inc., will postpone premium rate hikes of up 39 percent that were scheduled to go into effect on May 1.
Senator Feinstein had called on WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross to drop plans for the rate hike, most recently during a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate last Friday. She also shared her view in an essay on the front page of the Huffington Post. (Read it at: http://tinyurl.com/28ftau2)
Senator Feinstein is the author of the Health Insurance Rate Authority Act of 2010, which would give the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to review and reject unfair premium rate increases in states where Insurance Commissioners do not have the authority or capability to do so. While she welcomed news of Anthem's decision to postpone the rate hikes, Senator Feinstein said Congress must take urgent action on the Rate Authority Act in order to plug the Rate Hike Loophole in the health insurance reform bill.
Senator Feinstein's bill is co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) has introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.
Below is Senator Feinstein's statement:
"The decision by WellPoint Inc. subsidiary Anthem Blue Cross to delay massive premium rates increases of up to 39 percent on California policyholders grants a welcome but temporary reprieve to thousands of struggling families and individuals who would be devastated by these rate hikes.
Unfortunately, WellPoint/Anthem is simply postponing the pain until another day. That's why it's more important than ever that Congress take swift action to close the Rate Hike Loophole in the health insurance reform bill and make sure that profit-driven health care companies aren’t allowed to rake in billion dollar bonanzas by dramatically increasing premium rates in the next four years.
Without urgent action by Congress, insurance policyholders across the nation face the possibility of multiple, dramatic premium rate increases between now and when the health insurance exchanges go online in 2014. I will do everything in my power to make sure the Health Insurance Rate Authority Act of 2010 becomes the law of the land."