Congressman Joe Garcia sent a letter yesterday to Florida's legislative leaders urging them to return the insurance regulator's authority to approve health insurance rate hikes, which Senate Bill 1842 removed for two years.
Garcia called the bill "a cynical attempt to undermine protections for Florida's consumers in order to sabotage the implementation of the Affordable Care Act" that would hurt consumers in the process.
"While you do not support the Affordable Care Act, you have the responsibility to protect the interests of Floridians and ensure that they have access to affordable health care," he wrote.
With other members of congress, Garcia previously signed a letter to Dept. of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius slamming Gov. Rick Scott and fellow legislators for exposing consumers to unreasonably high insurance premiums as a result of the bill, and called her to take a more active role in reviewing rates in Florida.
The Affordable Care Act encourages state regulators to review premium rates proposed by health insurance companies, but allows the federal government to engage in such reviews if a state is found to have inadequate protection for consumers. While the federal government determined in early May that Florida was legally capable of protecting consumers, on May 31, Scott signed SB 1842 which forbids insurance commissioner Kevin McCarty from reviewing health insurance premium rates offered in the new healthcare marketplace for two years.