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GOP lawmakers defend bill that stripped state of insurance rate approval

Republican lawmakers are doubling down on their support of a bill passed this spring that removes the state's ability to regulate health insurance rates for two years. Here is an excerpt from the story in Tuesday's paper:

Republican lawmakers are fighting back against criticism that their hands-off approach to the federal health care law is leaving consumers vulnerable.

And they reject accusations that the law preventing the state from regulating health insurance rates for two years was based on faulty or misleading information.

"We had thorough hearings on it, the rationale for the bill was explained thoroughly during the committee process," said Rep. John Wood, R-Winter Haven, who sponsored the bill in the House.

Democrats and consumer groups raised red flags but were unable to dramatically alter Senate Bill 1842, which passed with most Democrats and just one Republican voting "no." Gov. Rick Scott signed it into law in May, but a recent PolitiFact ruling cast a spotlight on the bill.

PolitiFact pointed out that Florida had forfeited its ability to regulate rates for plans listed on the health exchange even though the federal government doesn't have the power to deny rate increases.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said last week that she was "baffled" by the state's actions. She said she didn't know of any others that relaxed their oversight because most states were beefing up insurance regulations.

Read more here.