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Health Insurance Regulation Bill Stalls

Posted on Thursday, September 1, 2011 8:38am

A controversial push to give California’s Insurance Commissioner the power to regulate health insurance rate increases is dead at the Capitol–for now. The measure’s author says it doesn’t have enough votes to pass the State Senate.

The bill’s demise brought frustration to its supporters, including consumer groups and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. But Patrick Johnston with the California Association of Health Plans says the measure picked up a growing list of critics–not just insurance companies, but doctors, hospitals and even the governor’s Department of Finance.

“They all saw this was a complicated, overly-bureaucratic restraint on the ability to get approval and to have competitive health insurance available to people,” said Johnston.

The bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Mike Feuer, says he hopes to try again in January. He also suggests that rather than changing the bill to win votes, he’ll try to change some minds.

“A rate regulation bill that assures that our health insurance rates are affordable has to be meaningfully protective of small businesses, working families and consumers,” said Feuer. “Anything short of that is just a pretense of reform.”

Feuer and Johnston both used the word “roadblock” to describe the bill’s fate in the Senate. But Johnston called that roadblock “major.” Feuer called it “temporary.”

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