Who cares about the Health Insurance Rate Review Act?

By Emily Hutto

ProducersWEB


Last January, the Health Insurance Rate Review Act was introduced and assigned to a congressional committee. The act seeks to amend the Public Health Service Act to protect consumers against what the legislation calls “excessive, unjustified, or unfairly discriminatory increases in premium rates.”

Montana Senator Jon Tester recently announced his support of this act. In an article explaining Tester’s position, the website liveinsurancenews.com says that although the Health Insurance Rate Review Act is quite similar to PPACA's rate review process, there’s one important difference to consider. “[PPACA] requires insurance companies to provide adequate justification for the increases they want to make to health insurance rates,” says the site. “The law does not, however, provide state regulators with the authority to deny or modify these proposals.”

Thus, says the website, the Health Insurance Rate Review Act is gaining quite a bit of support since PPACA’s upholding because individual states want more control over the health insurance industry.

Among the act’s supporters are California Senator Dianne Feinstein, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, New Jersey Senator Frank R. Lautenberg and Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

Already, federal law requires that states must conduct special reviews when health insurers want to raise their premiums by more than 10 percent. Nine of these requests have been submitted in the state of Texas, where Governor Rick Perry has been avoiding all PPACA-mandated exchanges. He’s also ignoring insurance rate reviews, as all of the submitted proposals are still pending. “In the meantime, says the article, “the insurance companies can go ahead and raise the rates anyway.”

Other than Perry’s outright denial of the rate reviews, I can’t seem to find any opponents to this Act, or really much coverage about it in general. Perhaps that’s because it’s been neglected in PPACA’s recent hype.

What’s your stance? Should state regulators be able to change insurance rate increase proposals?