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Battle Over Insurance Regulation Moves To Calif. Senate

Audio

Aired 6/7/11

Many Californians have been slammed with repeated health insurance premium hikes. The state senate will take up a measure that would gave regulators the power to reject increases they considered to be unreasonable.

— A battle is looming in the state senate over a measure that would regulate health insurance premiums in California. The controversial bill would allow regulators to reject rate hikes they considered excessive.

California regulators currently have the authority to review health insurance premium increases. But in most cases they can't force insurers to withdraw them.

Some insurers have recently sought increases of more than 50 percent.

Greg Knoll heads up the San Diego Legal Aid Society and its Consumer Center for Health. He said the bill would protect against unreasonable rate hikes and greed.

"It's greed that led to the banking crisis and mortgage crisis, and to some extent, there is a lot of greed in health care, as well," Knoll said. "And this will be a watchdog for it, and it's a great idea."

The health insurance industry said the measure would lead to higher costs and less access to care for Californians.

Last week, the state assembly approved the bill. But it passed without any Republican support, and some Democrats refused to vote.

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