The law would require health insurers to publicly disclose and justify their rates. (Getty Images)
Update, 12:30 a.m.
At first glance, Proposition 45 seemed like a no-brainer for consumers. The measure would have given the state’s insurance commissioner the authority to reject excessive rate hikes in health insurance sold on the individual and small-business markets.
Consumers who had seen their premiums go up by double digits year after year clung to Prop. 45 as the savior.
“I felt like a frog in hot water that got hotter and hotter until it was boiling,” says Josh Libresco, a market researcher who has bought health insurance for his family on the individual market for 20 years.
Kevin Spacey stars as Frank Underwood in the Netflix series “House of Cards.” (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
The power play behind Proposition 45 could be fodder for an episode of House of Cards:
Dave Jones might not like this comparison, but he’s the Frank Underwood in this fight.
“Power is a lot like real estate. It’s all about location, location, location. The closer you are to the source, the higher your property value,” so goes protagonist Frank Underwood, who plays the menacing House majority whip scheming to get closer to the president.
You’d never think there’d be such positioning over who gets to regulate health insurance.
But this is California. And no less than three state agencies want to have a say in this one. Continue reading
(David Paul Morris/Getty Images)
A new Field Poll shows voter support dropping for two propositions on the November ballot.
Prop. 45 would give the state insurance commissioner the authority to reject excessive rate hikes. Support has dropped from 69 percent early in the summer to 41 percent in the current poll. Twenty-six percent are opposed and 33 percent are undecided.
Prop. 46 would require drug testing of doctors and increase the cap on pain and suffering awards in medical negligence lawsuits from $250,000 to $1.1 million. Early this summer, support stood at 58 percent; today it is 34 percent, with 30 percent opposed and 29 percent undecided.
“This current poll is relatively big news on Prop. 46. I don’t think its chances of passage are all that great,” Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo told the San Francisco Chronicle. He added that it’s harder to predict what might happen with Prop. 45. Continue reading
By Helen Shen, Kaiser Health News
California voters are showing strong early support for a ballot initiative that would expand the state’s authority to regulate health insurance rates.
Nearly 7 of every 10 respondents indicated that they would vote in favor of Proposition 45, while 16 percent would vote against it, according to a Field poll released Wednesday.
Proposition 45 would give California’s insurance commissioner the power to veto excessive health insurance rate increases.
Health insurance rates in the state are currently overseen by the Department of Managed Health Care and the California Department of Insurance. Insurance companies are required to submit proposed rate increases for review each year by state regulators, who may declare rates unreasonable but cannot block them from going into effect. Continue reading
A new analysis from the Department of Insurance confirms what has been reported since the Covered California exchange opened last October: Some people saw steep premium increases after the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
According to the department’s analysis non-subsidy eligible individuals saw average increases ranging from 22 to 88 percent, depending on their age and where they lived. The review was done of all health plans — including those managed for the Department of Managed Health Care — and looked at premiums from California’s four largest carriers, Anthem Blue Cross, Kaiser, Blue Shield and Health Net.
The release appeared to be politically timed. Covered California’s rates for next year are due on Thursday, and the rumble is that new premiums will show only modest increases. Continue reading
Peter Lee, seen here in a 2012 photo, is the executive director of Covered California and testified Thursday before the joint legislative committee on health.
State insurance commissioner Dave Jones is flatly rejecting accusations that a proposition on November’s ballot would undermine the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in California.
If passed by voters, Proposition 45 would give the commissioner the power to reject excessive rate hikes for health insurance –- and, he argues, keep health premiums affordable for consumers. Last month, Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, said the measure could compromise its operations, possibly causing delays in approving health plans before they are federally mandated to go on sale to consumers, or curtailing its own authority to negotiate the details of plans with insurers.
“These conclusions are fundamentally flawed,” Jones said on Wednesday, speaking before the state’s joint legislative committee on health. Continue reading
Dave Jones leads the California Department of Insurance. (Courtesy: Department of Insurance)
In this lull between the end of the first open enrollment for Covered California and the release of rates for next year — expected to be made public in July — San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club invited the state’s Commissioner of Insurance Dave Jones to talk about the state of the health care overhaul in California.
The commissioner closed his remarks by pitching for the rate review ballot initiative coming up in November. As moderator of the discussion following, I fielded several questions from the audience about the upcoming initiative. To recap the basics: If passed, the initiative would give the insurance commissioner the authority to reject excessive health insurance rate increases.
The insurance commissioner already has that authority over auto, homeowner, property and casualty insurance — via voter-passed Proposition 103 back in 1988. Many voters are surprised, Jones said, to find out he cannot also reject health insurance premium increases. He called this lack of explicit authority a “major missing piece of the Affordable Care Act.” Continue reading