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Ballot Measure Would Regulate Heath Insurance Premiums in California

Aired 2/20/12 on KPBS News.

Consumer advocates are trying to get a measure on the fall ballot that would allow the state to regulate health insurance premiums.

— Signatures are being collected on an initiative that would allow state regulators to control the price of health insurance. The measure would let the state insurance commissioner reject excessive rate hikes.

The California Legislature voted down a similar measure last year.

The initiative would require health insurers to get approval from the state insurance commissioner before they could raise premiums.

Tom Richardson runs a swimming pool repair business in Serra Mesa. He said Blue Shield has raised his rates three times over the past year.

"It was gonna start being $1,905 a month," Richardson said. "But instead of having a $2,000 deductible now, we changed it to a $5,500 each deductible, and that's gonna drop me down to about $1,090 a month."

The nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog is pushing the initiative. It's trying an all-volunteer effort to gather enough signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

The group must collect 505,000 valid signatures by May 15.

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