Most State Regulatory Agencies Lack Authority to Block Health Insurance Rate Increases

In most of the country, state insurance authorities have little to no power to regulate insurance rates, reports the Los Angeles Times. “In many states, it is the insurance industry that largely controls the regulatory process, funneling money to key state lawmakers and squelching efforts to expand government oversight of premiums,” writes business reporter Noam N. Levey. More alarming than that, some state lawmakers have themselves blocked legislation that would reform the insurance industry. See “Lawmakers in Most States Have Little Control Over Healthcare Premiums.”

Part of the problem is that the insurance industry has a powerful, highly financed lobbying effort and has contributed more than $42 million to campaign contributions to lawmakers who sit on committees that regulate the industry. If that sounds to you like consumers are not getting the oversight from elected officials they’ve counted on, you are probably right.

In California, Assemblymember Dave Jones, who is running for California Insurance Commissioner, is trying for the third time to pass legislation that will give the commissioner prior-approval of rate increases. Last time, the bill was blocked by members of the Senate Health Committee, who according to Consumer Watchdog, received campaign donations from the state’s largest health insurers and their trade associations. Jones won’t accept campaign contributions from anyone in the insurance industry chain regulated by the California Department of Insurance.
It’s clear consumers need someone at the state capital protecting their interests. That’s why we endorse Dave Jones for California Insurance Commissioner.

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