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Health insurance rate regulation gains support in Congress

Senator Jon Tester announced his support for legislation to give state insurance commissioners the authority to say no when insurance companies propose excessive and unjustified premium increases.

Tester endorsed a bill sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein of CA, (S 137), to require oversight and approval of health insurance premiums. 35 states already have that authority. 

Feinstein is also the honorary co-chair of Consumer Watchdog's California ballot initiative to make health insurance companies publicly justify and get approval for rate increases before they take effect. That initiative is pending signature verification for the 2014 ballot (word on that any day now.)

Tester's announcement this week was a recognition that voters are demanding that lawmakers get health insurance prices under control. (He's currently in a big battle to hold his Senate seat this year.) It doesn't matter if you think Obamacare is a dirty word or a herald of the Second Coming, most consumers think insurance companies should have to publicly justify price hikes. Senator Tester, not known as the most progressive vote in the Senate, is testament to that. No wonder, since every day there's a new report about health insurers fudging the numbers, making their executives multimillionaires and stashing away tons of cash as excess surplus.

As Obamacare stands, we'll all have to prove we have health insurance by 2014. Kudos to Senator Tester for supporting common sense oversight of the prices health insurers charge for that coverage.