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Bill Would Let Insurance Commissioner Reject Health Insurance Hikes

Since 1988, the California state insurance commissioner has been able to reject excessive price hikes in auto, property and home insurance. State insurance commissioner Dave Jones said he's sponsoring a bill that would allow him to do the same for health insurance. He criticized insurance companies’ profits at a gathering in a Rolando neighborhood library with the newly formed Middle Class Taxpayers Association.

“The top five health insurers in the nation last year made $11.7 billion in profit,” Jones said. “This is in the height of the recession still when many businesses are really struggling. So we’re seeing these huge profits that come at the expense of ordinary Californians and California businesses.”

Commissioner Jones also explained how prohibitive health insurance prices affect all taxpayers.

“We keep having year after year 10, 20, 30, 40 percent increases in the price of health insurance,” he said. “A lot of families and small businesses can no longer afford it. It costs us a lot of money in the long run because these 8 million Californians wait until they are really really sick and then they go to the emergency room to get health care when it’s a lot more expensive and then we all pay for it as taxpayers.”

The California Senate Health Committee passed Commissioner Jones’s bill, AB 52, yesterday. The Appropriations Committee, chaired by San Diego Democrat Christine Kehoe, will vote on AB-52 in 30 days. Thirty-five other states already allow their commissioners to veto unreasonable health insurance hikes.

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