Sen. Feinstein, Rep. Schakowsky, Maine insurance official and CW talk out-of-control health insurance rates

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Senator Dianne Feinstein, Representative Jan Schakowsky, and Maine's top insurance regulator will join Consumer Watchdog founder Harvey Rosenfield at a Consumer Watchdog newsmaker briefing on Capitol Hill next Wednesday. Here are the details.


How Health Insurance Rate Regulation Can Lower Premiums and Save Health Reform

Wednesday, May 11, 2011, 2:00pm – 3:30pm

116 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC


Join us for a discussion of what can be done in Congress, the states and by HHS to strengthen rate regulation and hold down costs under health reform.

Consumer Watchdog will release a report that day that analyzes rate regulation in Massachusetts, California, Maine and other states, and what works to bring down health insurance premiums.


Introductory Remarks:

Senator Dianne Feinstein

Representative Jan Schakowsky

Featured Panelists:

Mila Kofman, Superintendent of Insurance in Maine

Harvey Rosenfield, Founder, Consumer Watchdog and author of California insurance rate regulation initiative Proposition 103


Carmen Balber, Washington Director, Consumer Watchdog

Question and answer period to follow.

RSVP to rsvp @

For more information call (202) 629-3064.


Health insurance premiums increased 138% in the last decade while medical inflation rose just 31%. 1st quarter 2011 financial reports show health insurance industry profits are on track to beat last year’s huge results. If premium increases continue unchecked, health reform will fail in its primary goal of expanding access to health insurance.

Massachusetts' struggle with costs shows that the federal reform law's mandate to purchase insurance, on its own, will not lower premiums. In California, a regulator found a 16% rate hike was unreasonable, but without the power to reject excessive rate increases could only "express disappointment" that the company was implementing it. In Maine, regulators' exercise of the power to review and modify rate increases has saved consumers millions. Regulation of insurance rates can stop the "death spiral" of rising premiums that may otherwise overwhelm health reform.

Carmen Balber
Carmen Balber
Consumer Watchdog executive director Carmen Balber has been with the organization for nearly two decades. She spent four years directing the group’s Washington, D.C. office where she advocated for key health insurance market reforms that were ultimately enacted into law as part of the Affordable Care Act.

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