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Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced legislation to give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the ability to reject excessive rate increases proposed by health insurance companies on the individual market. 

“Democrats are committed to improving the Affordable Care Act,” said Senator Feinstein. “One way to do that is by giving the federal government additional authority to block unreasonable premium increases. If Republicans were serious about addressing affordability, they would work with us on proposals like this one that will help families across the country.”

The Protecting Consumers from Unreasonable Rates Act builds on the Affordable Care Act, which requires health insurance rate increases greater than 10 percent to be made publically available, along with an explanation for the increase.

Many state insurance commissioners already have the ability to reject unreasonable health insurance rate increases, resulting in clear benefits to consumers. This bill would extend that protection to all states.

For example, insurers in New York requested extremely high rate increases for 2017 premiums in both the individual and small group markets. Regulators reduced the premium increase for the individual market by 14 percent and for the small group market by 32 percent. Feinstein’s bill would fill in the gaps when states lack the authority to act.