A new bill passed in Pennsylvania has consumer advocacy groups a little worried about the state’s future health insurance program. The bill in question was passed by the state Senate on Wednesday requires all health insurers in the state to submit their rate proposals to regulators for review if they are seeking increases of 10% or higher. While legislators claim that more regulations will help ensure insurance companies do not enact excessive rate increased, consumer advocacy group Pennsylvania Health Access Network, says that the bill compromises the protections of small businesses.
According to the law, Pennsylvania Health Access Network whose rate proposals have been rejected by regulators can call for a public hearing asking for specific details regarding the rejection. The same opportunity is not extended to small businesses that are forced to pay higher rates, a fact that the Health Access Network claims is unfair. Furthermore, though the bill affects for-profit insurance companies, it does not require not-for-profit companies to submit rate increase proposals to regulators.
According to the Affordable Care Act, states must make their rate review process more efficient and effective. If states fail to meet the standard of the law, the federal government will take over the review process. Consumer advocates fear that the bill, currently heading for the House of Representatives, will not meet the government’s standards because it excludes non-profit insurers from the review process. If federal regulators take over the process, consumer protections may be put at risk.