A bill that would strengthen California's authority to regulate health insurance rates won approval by the state's Senate Appropriations Committee on a 6-3 vote on Aug. 25.
The bill, which has already been approved by the state Assembly, now heads to the Senate floor.
Although health insurance companies must file proposed rates for review by state regulators, the California insurance commissioner has no authority to prevent unreasonable rates from going into effect. This bill would let the state reject excessive rate hikes proposed by insurers.
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and consumer activist groups applauded the committee's passage of the bill. Jones introduced similar legislation three times when he served in the state Assembly before winning last year's election for commissioner.
The bill still faces a tough fight. The California Association of Health Plans, the California Medical Association, the California Hospital Association and dozens of business groups are opposing it.