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California won't get health insurance rate rejection authority this year
By Insure.com staff

A California bill that would have given insurance regulators the authority to reject excessive rate hikes proposed by health insurers has been shelved until next year.

Amid growing opposition to the bill, Assemblyman Mike Feuer, a Los Angeles Democrat, announced Aug. 31 he would pull the measure and try again next year.

The bill passed in the Assembly and had the support of consumer groups, unions and California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, but it lacked enough votes to pass in the Senate. The measure faced tough opposition from insurers, the California Medical Association, California Hospital Association and a slew of chambers of commerce and other business groups. The California Department of Finance also raised concerns about the bill's impact on the state's budget.

Feuer called the tabling of the measure a "temporary roadblock. But California Association of Health Plans President and CEO Patrick Johnston said the measure "hit a major roadblock because it was deeply flawed."

"This misguided concept hurts patients, businesses and limits access to care," he said in a press statement. "AB 52 failed to address the underlying cost pressure that are driving up the price of coverage. Those root causes must be addressed to really tackle health care affordability."

The average monthly premium for health insurance is $157 per person in the individual market, compared to a nationwide average of $215, according to the association.

Meanwhile Consumer Watchdog, a supporter of Feuer's bill, announced a campaign to put a measure on the November 2012 ballot that would roll back health insurance rates 20 percent and create a public option for consumers to buy health insurance. The group was behind the campaign to pass Proposition 103, which gave state regulators prior approval authority over car insurance rates in California.



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