Ballot Initiative Would Hold Health Insurance Premiums Down

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NORWALK (CBS) — Leaders of Consumer Watchdog Campaign along with patients and the state’s Insurance Commissioner delivered to the Los Angeles County Registrar’s office in Norwalk hundreds of thousands of petition signatures in support of a health insurance rate justification ballot initiative.

Laurel Kaufer, a self-employed single mother of two, was among the supporters of the measure which would require health insurance companies to gain approval from the Insurance Commissioner before raising rates.

She says her health insurance bills have skyrocketed to more than $1,100 a month.

“For me to have to choose between medical care and medical coverage and other necessities is absolutely absurd,” Kaufer told CBS2′s Randy Paige.

But she’s not alone.

According to Dave Jones, California’s Insurance Commissioner, “Laurel is one of literally millions in California.”

“The initiative today will finally give me the authority to reject excessive rate hikes which I have for almost every other insurance product line except for health insurance,” said Jones.

But Fiona Hutton, who represents the opposition, says “it’s a flawed concept because it’s bad for patients.”

She says the initiative would create an expensive, new bureaucracy paid for by higher premiums and give too much power to the insurance commissioner.

“You’re putting one politician that’s beholden special interests and campaign contributions in charge of your benefits and your rates,” Hutton explained.

“I don’t take any contributions from health insurers or HMOs or any part of the insurance industry and at the end of the day, it’s the law that governs,” Jones contends.

Backers of the measure hope county registrars throughout the state will be able to verify the signatures before the June 28, deadline.

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