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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

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What's still missing from the House amendment

Consumer Watchdog, which pioneered the most successful insurance premium regulation law in the nation, Proposition 103, called for particular changes to the House bill. Specifically, the House bill should adopt key provisions of California's landmark insurance reform law, including:

  • Mandatory prior approval, which means requiring insurers to seek permission from government regulators, in addition to justifying rate increases, before imposing the new rates. The language in the Dingell amendment conditioning such prior approval on whether it is "appropriate under state law" should be deleted. In its place states should be required to adopt Prop 103-styled prior approval in order to maximize saving and decrease insurance company waste and overhead. Since 1988, California's Proposition 103 has saved drivers $62 billion while fostering a competitive and profitable insurance market.
  • An intervenor system that allows the public to challenge unnecessary premium hikes. States should also provide consumers a forum to challenge excessive rate increases. Since 2003, Consumer Watchdog has saved the state's consumers $1.7 billion by challenging unnecessary premium increase and insufficient decrease requests using the public intervention process.

In addition to these two elements, to ensure that the reforms would be properly enforced, Proposition 103 made the state insurance commissioner an elected position accountable directly to the voters, not a political appointee.

A 2008 Consumer Federation of America report found Proposition 103 to be the nation's most effective insurance regulation and detailed the savings on the 1988 law. The report can be downloaded at: http://www.consumerfed.org/pdfs/state_auto_insurance_report.pdf. A related pres
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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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