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Consumer Watchdog Hails House Cost-Control Plan to Regulate Health Insurance Rates, Urges Lawmakers to Combine It With Strong 'Public Option'
Date:11/6/2009

Late Addition to House Health Reform Bill Should Adopt Key Details of Successful Insurance Regulation in California to Achieve Cost Controls, Says Group

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumer Watchdog, which pioneered the nation's most successful insurance premium regulation law in California, praised Congress for including a key cost-control element in the final version of its health reform bill. Among amendments released this week is a requirement for health insurance companies to publicly justify any premium increases before they go into effect, a necessary element in containing future health care costs, said Consumer Watchdog.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy group called on Congress to clarify that insurers must justify increases in their combined rates, including co-pays and deductibles, and require them to receive prior approval from state regulators before the rates go into effect. Congress must also insist that regulation be in addition to, not instead of, a publicly run option to private insurance.

"Rate regulation was the missing cost-control link in all of the Congressional bills, and this plugs a truck-sized loophole," said Jerry Flanagan, health policy director of Consumer Watchdog. "Now Congress needs to fill in some key details that will help states keep a firm lid on health insurance increases that have far outpaced increases in medical costs."

Read about California's landmark law to rein in gouging by property and casualty insurers at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/insurance/articles/?storyId=19888

Consumer Watchdog expressed wariness that the rate regulation proposal might become a compromise alternative to a publicly run health insurance option in the final bill, and warned against it.

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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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