The National Tax Payer’s Union has looked into the health care insurance regulation bill introduced by Illinois Congressional District 9 Representative Jan Schakowsky and they find the whole thing wanting…. AND expensive.
The Bill: S. 3078/H.R. 4757, Health Insurance Rate Authority Act of 2010
Annualized Cost: $255 million (first year cost)
Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) sponsored the Health Insurance Rate Authority Act to help “ensure that people in all states have access to a meaningful [health insurance] rate review process to protect them from unfair increases.” The bill would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to block increases in health insurance premiums. While 25 states have their own Insurance Commissioners to review and approve or block proposed rate increases, S. 3078 would add a federal level of decision-making to “provide unprecedented authority to block unreasonable premium increases before they are allowed to take effect.”
The bill also establishes a Medical Insurance Rate Authority — a seven member advisory group — charged with prioritizing potentially unreasonable rate increases for review by the Secretary, producing an annual report detailing insurance market behavior, and assigning regulators to each state to review rate increases.
Debate over the bill pits health care reform advocates against state regulators. Consumers Union calls for Congress to pass the Health Insurance Rate Authority Act because “[t]oo often, consumers are left at the mercy of health insurance companies, as many states allow companies to increase rates with little or no oversight.” However, in a recent Politico article, Robert Zirkelbach of America’s Health Insurance Plans says “states have the infrastructure, experience[,] and expertise to review premiums.”
Check out NTU.org for a lot of other great analysis and info about what’s going on in our nation’s capitol.