Almost $200 million in new federal grant money is available to help states crack down on unreasonable health insurance premium increases.
This is the second round of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grants to encourage states to improve their rate review programs and builds on $46 million awarded to 45 states and the District of Columbia in August 2010.
The grant funding, which was included as a provision of health care reform, complements new rules proposed in December to require insurance companies to publicly justify unreasonable rate increases.
Currently, the power each state has to regulate health insurance companies varies. The grants are designed to help states strengthen their regulatory authority and make rate review a more transparent process for the public.
"For too long, families and small business owners have struggled to pay ever increasing health insurance premiums," Steve Larsen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, said in a statement. "The Affordable Care Act provides states new resources and tools to curb those rising costs, as well as to help make sure that consumers and businesses are getting value for their premium dollars."
Of the new funding, $149 million is available for states to enhance their rate review programs; $22.5 million is available to states with larger populations and more health insurers; and $27.5 million is available to states that enacted the authority to approve or reject rate increases.