Santa Monica, CA – The California Secretary of State announced today that a ballot initiative to require health insurance companies to publicly justify and get approval for rate increases before they take effect has qualified for the 2014 ballot. The Insurance Rate Public Justification and Accountability Act made the ballot after county registrars of voters certified that more than 549,380 valid signatures from California voters were submitted by Consumer Watchdog Campaign. The initiative would require health insurance companies to refund consumers for excessive rates charged as of November 7, 2012 even though voters will not vote on the initiative until a later ballot.
“Californians can no longer afford the outrageous double-digit rate hikes health insurance companies have imposed year after year, and often multiple times a year, ” said Jamie Court, proponent of the ballot measure and president of Consumer Watchdog. “This initiative gives voters the chance to take control of health insurance prices at the ballot by forcing health insurance companies to publicly open their books and justify rates, under penalty of perjury. Health insurance companies are on notice that any rate that is excessive as of November 7th 2012 will be subject to refunds when voters pass this ballot measure.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the first person to sign the ballot petition, is an honorary co-chair of the ballot initiative campaign, which is also supported by California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
The need to regulate health insurance rates will be even more clear to voters when they vote on the initiative in November 2014 than it is today, said Consumer Watchdog, because the federal health reform law’s mandate that every American purchase insurance takes effect in January 2014. 35 states have the authority to reject excessive rate increases, but California does not. Health insurance premiums have increased in California over 150% in the last decade, five times faster than the rate of inflation, according to the California HealthCare Foundation.
The ballot initiative builds on California’s successful model of rate regulation for auto, home and other property and business insurance. That law, Proposition 103, was enacted by the voters in 1988 and has saved California drivers $62 billion since it was enacted.
The Insurance Rate Public Justification and Accountability Act:
· Requires health insurance companies to publicly disclose and justify, under penalty of perjury, proposed rate changes before they take effect.
· Makes every document filed by an insurance company to justify a rate increase a public record.
· Requires public hearings on proposed rate increases.
· Gives Californians the right to challenge excessive and unfair premium rate increases.
· Prohibits health, auto and home insurers from considering Californians’ credit history or prior insurance coverage when setting premiums or deciding whether to offer coverage.
· Gives the elected insurance commissioner authority to reject unjustified rate increases.
Read the initiative here: http://justifyrates.consumerwatchdogcampaign.org/read-initiative
For more information and to sign up for the campaign visit: www.JustifyRates.org
Download the certification from the Secretary of State here: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ccrov/pdf/2012/august/12255km.pdf
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Consumer Watchdog Campaign is chaired by insurance reform Proposition 103 author Harvey Rosenfield. Consumer Watchdog Campaign is the campaign affiliate of Consumer Watchdog, which was founded by Rosenfield and whose president, Jamie Court, an award-winning consumer advocate and author, is the proponent of the proposed ballot.