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Baucus Co-Op Plan Would Gut State Laws; Consumer Watchdog Report Calls for 'Prior Approval' Rate Regulation in Health Reform, Not Deregulation of State Consumer Protection Laws
Date:9/8/2009

** A prior approval system for rates requiring insurers to seek permission from government regulators and justify rate increases. Since 1988, California's Proposition 103 has saved drivers $62 billion.

** An intervenor system that allows the public to challenge unnecessary premium hikes. Since 2003, Consumer Watchdog has saved $1.7 billion by challenging unnecessary premium increase and insufficient decrease requests using the public intervention process.

** An elected commissioner accountable to the public directly for premium hikes. To ensure that the reforms would be properly enforced, Proposition 103 made the insurance commissioner an elected position accountable directly to the voters, not to a politician who typically uses an appointment to reward the insurance industry for political support.

"Congress must require every state to adopt a similar prior approval system for health insurance rates. Any reform must require insurers to justify rate increases and allow the public to intervene," said Jerry Flanagan of Consumer Watchdog.

A 2008 Consumer Federation of America report detailing the savings of Proposition 103 can be downloaded at:http://www.consumerfed.org/pdfs/state_auto_insurance_report.pdf. A related press release is available at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/insurance/articles/?storyId=19888.

Deregulation: Hidden Co-Op Loophole?

Republican Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), ranking Republican member of the Senate health committee, has spoken favorably about a proposal by Senator Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) to establish health insurance cooperatives ("co-ops"), to replace the
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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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