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Health Insurance Rate Hike Measure Won't Be on November Ballot

LOS ANGELES TIMES

Proponents of greater state regulation of premiums fail to gather enough signatures to put it before voters in the presidential election. They still hope to get it on the November 2014 ballot.

A proposed voter initiative to require greater regulation of health insurance premiums in California has failed to qualify for the November ballot, according to the measure's author.

Jamie Court, president of the Santa Monica advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, said he was told Thursday by the secretary of state's office that a spot check by county registrars of voters fell just short of the 555,236 signatures needed to go before voters in November's presidential election.

The initiative will instead qualify for the November 2014 general-election ballot if 504,760 voters' signatures are validated, he said.

The secretary of state's office said it would not report on the initiative's status until the last of California's 58 counties report by a July 13 deadline.

A health industry coalition that includes hospitals, insurance companies, doctors and others opposed the measure. On Thursday, it called the Consumer Watchdog initiative proposal "a flawed, costly measure" whether "it's on the 2012 or 2014 ballot."

Court said his group was "disappointed that voters won't be able to make a choice in November."

He predicted that Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding President Obama's Affordable Care Act health insurance law would make voters more likely to approve stronger rate regulation in California in 2014.

The initiative would give California insurance regulators the power to approve or deny proposed health insurance rates. The initiative is based on a 1988 automobile-insurance rate regulation law.

Consumer Watchdog raised $1.9 million in campaign contributions for the initiative that failed to qualify by the Thursday deadline. In its most recent filing, March 31, it reported spending $341,238, but that was before a costly paid-signature gathering effort picked up speed.

marc.lifsher@latimes.com