Contact: Laurence Grotheer
June 7, 2011
State Senator Joseph J. Crisco (D-Woodbridge), Senate chair of the legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee, and Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) successfully ushered through the Senate last night his bill to provide public input and greater transparency in the rate increase approval process for health insurance and long term care insurance. The lawmakers said the current process, characterized by autonomous decisions by the commissioner of the state Department of Insurance, yields extraordinary, double-digit rate increases.
Senator Crisco said in the Senate Chamber that in the past two years 104 healthcare rate increase requests were filed, 60 were approved and only two public hearings were held. In the past four years 107 long term care insurance rate increase requests were filed, 37 approved, and none with the benefit of public comment or opinion.
“Given the existing state regulation of insurance rates and the idea that rate increases must go through an approval process, it follows the approval process should be as thorough as possible to ensure insurers are operating efficiently and that increases are necessary,” Senator Crisco said. “Public comment and participation must be an integral part of that oversight process, and this bill will make it so.”
“Year after year health insurance companies increase premiums without holding any public hearings or giving consumers an opportunity to ask questions, and that's wrong,” Senator Looney said. “This bill will increase accountability and give consumers the transparency they deserve.”
The lawmakers described the bill and its provision for a public comment period concurrent with the review period triggered by a rate increase request. Increases deemed ‘unreasonably high’ will be reviewed at a public symposium where the state attorney general and healthcare advocate can formally question documentation and justification for the rate increase.
“Going forward, provisions of this bill suggest the operative word in Connecticut’s rate approval process will be transparency and ready access to application materials and other evidence insurers have to warrant and justify them,” Senator Crisco said. “To me it just seems like common sense that any rate increase approval should only be made in conjunction with a requirement that insurance companies or the Insurance Department maintain and make available better records about industry costs and profits.”
The lawmakers said after last night’s unanimous Senate approval, the bill now advances to the House of Representatives for its consideration and action.
Legislative Office Building
Hartford, CT 06106-1591
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