Feinstein, Advocates Push Review Of Calif. Health Insurance Rate Hikes

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a San Francisco Democrat, has joined forces with those seeking approval of an initiative that would allow California to regulate health insurance rates.

California is one of 17 states that does not regulate health insurance rates, which have been a hot topic among Democrats since passage in March 2010 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Obama Administration has ordered that either states or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services review all health insurance rate increases it deems “excessive,” those exceeding 10%.

“I am proud to tell you that I was the first person to sign a new ballot initiative petition that will reform the health insurance industry in California,” Feinstein told about 2 million registered voters in an email, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Feinstein and members of Consumer Watchdog, a public advocacy group that was influential in the passage of the state’s landmark Proposition 103, which provided rate regulation for auto insurance, starting in 1988.

Passage of a bill mandating health insurance rate reviews has failed in each of the last five legislative sessions, in part because of the opposition of the insurance and health care industries.

Dave Jones, the state’s insurance commissioner, also has been pointing out in press releases and statements what he says is the need for the state to regulate all health insurers’ rate increase requests.

Advocates for the law need 505,000 signatures to earn the measure a spot on the November ballot.

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