In California’s ongoing battle over health insurance rates, legislators may have won some ground toward their goals of more affordable coverage. The state’s Assembly approved a bill late last week that would institute much stricter regulations regarding rate changes. The bill requires California insurers to seek approval from regulators regarding rate changes before they can collect premiums from new rates. The majority of the state’s insurance industry opposed the bill, but was unable to sway the minds of lawmakers.
The bill expands the powers of the California’s Insurance Commissioner, Dave Jones. He will now have the authority, along with Governor Jerry Brown, to reject any rate hike he considers excessive. Regulators will also be given the power to make changes to rate increase proposals. Jones applauded the passage of the measure, as he himself had tried three separate times to pass a similar bill.
“Since I took office, Californians have made it clear that they want me to reject excessive rate increases,” says Jones. If the bill succeeds in passing the state’s Senate, he will finally have the authority to do just that.
Legislators will continue to debate the bill as several propose amendments that would limit regulatory power for the sake of the insurance industry as a whole. Jones is hopeful that the bill will pass unchanged as it will enable him to affect real change in the market and keep insurance from becoming unaffordable for the majority of Californians and businesses.