Rep. Anne Graham Submits Bill To Prevent Unreviewed Insurance Rate Hikes

Posted on October 27, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

(Via press release)

Bill to prevent health insurance rate hikes submitted

Rep. Graham says fix to Republican health insurance overhaul needed now

AUGUSTA – Rep. Anne Graham, D- North Yarmouth, submitted new legislation to prevent insurance companies from increasing rates without a review by the Maine Bureau of Insurance for the upcoming legislative session in January. The bill was introduced to help fix problems resulting from the Republican insurance overhaul that was rushed through the legislature last spring.

“The bill simply prevents insurance companies from excessively increasing rates without oversight,” said Graham, who fought against the radical health insurance overhaul known as LD 1333 (now public law 90). “Maine families and small businesses just can’t afford to put more money in the pockets of big insurance.”

When Anthem recently proposed a 9.7 percent increase in individual rates, the Bureau of Insurance limited it to 5.2 percent after a thorough review. Under the new law put in place by LD 1333, the bureau could no longer review rate increases on small businesses or individuals of up to 10 percent.

Graham’s bill, “An Act to Enhance Affordable, Quality Health Care in Maine,” restores the oversight role of the Maine Bureau of Insurance in the insurance rate review process, preventing excessive price hikes by insurance companies. It also establishes a council to monitor health care accessibility and quality as well as payment reform and expands consumer oversight of the new reinsurance pool. The pool is funded by a new tax on policyholders and is primarily overseen by insurance executives.

Legislative leaders from both parties will decide if the bill will be considered next year during a meeting of the Legislative Council on Oct. 31. The second session of the legislature is typically reserved for top priority measures, such as bills relating to the budget, emergency legislation and legislation carried over from the first session.

“If we want to get serious about lowering health care costs, we must address the cost drivers through payment reform and prevention,” said Graham, who works as a pediatric nurse practitioner. “We must fix the law before it gets any worse.”

LD 1333 allows insurance companies selling individual policies to set rates based on age at up to five times higher than the lowest rate. There are no limits on rate changes depending on where you live or what kind of job you have.

Small businesses in Hancock, Washington, and Aroostook counties are projected to see insurance premiums rise more than 60 or 70 percent. One company in Presque Isle is already expecting to see an increase of 90 percent.

“Our health care laws should be focused on helping consumers, patients, and small businesses not growing the bottom line of big insurance companies,” added Graham.

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