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Letters urge legislature to reinstate insurance regulator's rate oversight

Joe Garcia

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. 

Comments

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Inge

We moved from Ohio to Florida on July 8th and our Family Medical Insurance went from $ 895.05 per month to $ 1,817.51 per month for unchanged coverage. We are self-employed with a high deductible Ins. plan, in good health and thought it had to be a mistake, but it is NOT a mistake acording to the Health Ins. Co.. We will be spending this week-end looking for less coverage. I wonder if we are the only family in this situation.

Patricia Borns

Inge, that does sound high. Many plans are priced under $1,000 a month with a $20,000 deductible for a family. Feel welcome to e-mail more specifics if you'd like us to take a closer look.

Noah Herman

Most health rate increases are prior approval, which means the rates have to be approved before an insurance company can use them.

Patricia Borns

Florida law has changed that. The state is no longer reviewing health insurance rates of plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act, so insurers may set the rates as they wish. That will be the case 'til 2016. 'Grandfathered' health plans -- those that existed prior to the ACA that the insurer wants to maintain -- will continue to have their rates reviewed. http://miamiherald.typepad.com/health/2013/08/florida-gop-defends-bill-deregulating-healthcare-insurance-rates.html

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