Op-ed: Transparency, Accountability on Unsustainable Health Insurance Rate Increases

Updated: Insurance Department Public Hearing 8/15/22 9AM

Health insurance companies recently submitted a shocking double digit health insurance rate hike request to the Connecticut Insurance Department (CID) for administrative approval. These proposals averaged over 20% for individual and small business health insurance plans that start in 2023.

 

These proposed rate increases are staggering and infuriating. We need real legislative action and market solutions. Families and hard working small businesses are already being crushed by historic inflation, Covid impacted challenges, tax increases, and living in a state they love but is growing more unaffordable by the day. Overall affordability is a crisis in our state and this crushing health insurance rate increase will exponentially add to that.

 

The Affordable Care Act promised affordable, accessible, quality health care for everyone. Here we are a decade later and that promise has not been fulfilled and even more troubling – the cost of healthcare insurance has skyrocketed to un-affordable levels.

 

This year, Senate Republicans once again proposed a plan to rein in out-of-control health care costs. Access Health CT‘s own estimates show our plan reduces premiums by $6,475 per year, or $540 per month for the average family. But the leading Democrat on the legislative Insurance Committee refused to even hold a vote on that plan. In fact, they outright admit to blocking this plan for affordable healthcare. The same Democratic lawmakers who say they are outraged today also said that there was no need for state action earlier this year because of federal subsidies. Now the subsidies are going away, and families and small businesses are about to suffer because of that inaction.

 

I want to highlight the filing summary for ConnectiCare Benefits plans, “The expanded subsidies under the American Rescue Plan Act put in place in 2021 are expected to go away in 2023. There will be less individual consumers who will be qualified for Federal Advance Premium Tax Credits (APTC). We expect members to leave the individual ACA market who were previously insured, and those members are likely to be healthier than the population who will stay in the individual ACA market. As a result, we expect the average morbidity of the single risk pool to go up and therefore lead to an unfavorable impact on 2023 rates.”

 

Oxford Health Insurance filing summary attributed rising costs in part to “Cost shifting from the public sector to the private sector – Reimbursements from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to hospitals do not generally cover all the cost of care. The cost difference is being shifted to private health plans. Hospitals typically make up this reimbursement shortfall by charging private health plans more.”

 

We absolutely need accessible public hearings for people impacted to voice their struggles and challenge these unaffordable rate increases. We need transparency and accountability from Insurance Companies and the CID to the public who will be burdened by these excessive cost increases.

 

Currently, the CID review process is held at its Department office with limited access and technology to accommodate public testimony and participation. It is a procedural process of reviewing the merits of each respective proposal, affording no opportunity to challenge and question the veracity of the request.

 

Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly and I recently wrote to CID Commissioner Andrew Mais requesting that the hearing be held at the State Capitol and to provide both in-person and virtual access to residents and businesses. We called for a hearing to allow for exchange of transparency and accountability and we were joined by CT Healthcare Advocate Ted Doolittle who shared our frustration and also questioned the justification of these staggering proposed rate increases as well.

 

Commissioner Mais has now agreed to hold the public hearing on Monday, August 15th, 2022 starting at 9AM at the Legislative Office Building at the State Capitol. The hearing can also be viewed on CT-N online, over the CID’s Facebook page, or by dialing into a telephone conference line. Anyone wishing to submit and share their testimony can email CID.RateFilings@ct.gov with their name and testimony attached and include me at Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov (I will personally deliver your testimony to CID).  Email request is also needed for those who wish to sign up to testify in-person remotely via MS Team video link.

 

 

You can read the supporting documents HERE:

 

Sen Kelly, Hwang Slam Health Insurance Rate Hike Request

https://ctsenaterepublicans.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Sen-Kelly-and-Sen-Hwang-Slam-Health-Insurance-Rate-Hike-Request.pdf

 

CT Republican Leaders Renew Calls to Open State Capitol for Public Hearing on Proposed Health Insurance Rate Increases

https://ctsenaterepublicans.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/CT-Republican-Leaders-Renew-Calls-to-Open-State-Capitol-for-Public-Hearing-on-Proposed-Health-Insurance-Rate-Increases.pdf

 

Sen. Kelly, Formica and Hwang Letter to CT Insurance Committee 7-11

https://ctsenaterepublicans.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/INS-Letter-7-11.pdf

 

Response from Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais to Sen. Kelly, Sen. Hwang on Request for Transparent and Accountable Public Hearing

https://ctsenaterepublicans.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Response-from-Insurance-Commissioner-Andrew-Mais-to-Sen.-Kelly-Sen.-Hwang-on-Request-for-Transparent-and-Accountable-Public-Hearing.pdf

 

***Updated: Insurance Department Public Hearing 8/15/22 9AM : https://portal.ct.gov/CID/Public-Notices/Latest-Notices****

 

Senator Tony Hwang is the Republican Committee leader on the Insurance and Real Estate Committee and the Public Health Committee and represents the 28th Senate District which currently includes the towns of Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport.

The post Op-ed: Transparency, Accountability on Unsustainable Health Insurance Rate Increases appeared first on Connecticut Senate Republicans.

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