Elected Officials Call on Insurance Regulators to Resist Price Hikes | CT News Junkie

Left to right: US Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Health Advocate Ted Doolittle, Sen. Matt Lesser, CCAG Director Tom Swan Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

When the State Insurance Department prepares to test the opinion of the public on the proposals from the insurance companies to raise next year’s policy by about 20%, the US Senate Richard Blumenthal presented on Friday a very controversial idea.

“What is a reasonable increase?” Zero. There is none. Nada,” Blumenthal said at a press conference Friday morning at the State Capitol in Hartford.

The two-term senator, who is running for re-election against Republican Leora Levy, joined Sen. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown, Healthcare Advocate Ted Doolittle and director of the Connecticut Citizens Action Group Tom Swan to protest the insurance company’s pre-emptive action. Monday’s public meeting on the matter.

Insurers in the state have been under constant fire from government officials since last month, when nine companies that sell insurance plans across and outside of the health insurance space asked the government to approve more than a dozen documents to raise prices in the institutions. both of them. individual and small group markets. The proposal calls for an average price increase of 20.4% for individual plans.

The Connecticut Department of Insurance will hold an information session at the Legislative Officer Building beginning at 9 a.m. Monday.

At a press conference Friday, Blumenthal and others focused on the gradual expansion of public sector plans sold on state exchanges. These additional subsidies were supposed to expire at the end of the year, but will be extended for three years under legislation expected to receive a final passage in Congress on Friday.

Mr Lesser said the end of the benefits was the reason for the double-digit increase that insurance companies including ConnectiCare, which has asked for a 24.1% increase.

“They’re betting on death, they’re betting on the Affordable Care Act to go away and they’re wrong,” Lesser said, “because Senator Blumenthal, Senator. [Chris] Murphy last week voted as part of the Inflation Reduction Act to support the Affordable Care Act. ”

Last week, Attorney General William Tong made similar objections and asked the state insurance department to delay Monday’s hearing pending Congressional action to increase the benefits.

However, Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais refused to suspend the case and disputed claims that the end of government subsidies had caused interest rates to rise.

In addition to uncertainty about the expanded benefits, insurers say their decision was based on other factors including rising medical and drug costs, as well as patients seeking care left behind during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are very concerned about how inflation affects our members and are working to make our plans as affordable as possible in today’s health environment,” Kim Kann, a ConnectiCare spokeswoman, said in a statement last month. .

However, elected officials and attorneys on Friday pointed out the profits and high interest rates that the five companies are seeking to raise prices for their members.

Blumenthal said the high-cost claims fell under scrutiny compared to the multibillion-dollar benefits of insurance carriers.

“The Department of Insurance just said ‘No. We are not stupid. We are not stupid. We know what you’re doing and on behalf of consumers we say no,’” Blumenthal said.

At a press conference on Thursday, Gerard O’Sullivan, director of consumer insurance, said the agency would reject requests to raise rates.

“We are pushing back very hard against the insurance companies and the review they gave to our department,” O’Sullivan said.

Gov. Ned Lamont argued that the increase in health care and other provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act should reduce the need for inflation.

“Everybody comes in with something high, we’re going to push back hard and show how some of the drug and hospital requirements have changed because of the Inflation Reduction Act and that should also reduce their requests,” Lamont said.

However, Doolittle, the state’s health representative, said that state insurance regulators should expand what they look at when investigating claims to include the amount paid by consumers in addition to their premiums and to evaluate whether the claims were. based on excessive or unreasonable prices offered by hospitals or pharmaceutical companies.

“This year in particular, when the traditional question of the insurance company can be answered in less than a minute by talking about the benefits that the health carriers have been buying for the past few years, CT families should be thoroughly investigated as to whether or not the requested prices are too high,” said Doolittle in an email.

Insurance regulators are only allowed to speculate whether insurance companies will remain insolvent under the proposed hike and whether the premiums are sufficient to cover the claims.