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Initiative on Health Insurance Rates Won't Make November Ballot

SACRAMENTO BEE

An initiative that seeks to regulate health insurance rates will not qualify for the November ballot, but proponents say California voters will have a say on the measure in 2014.

"We're disappointed, but we're also hopeful that the extra time will make the cause even greater," said Jamie Court, president of the initiative's backer, Consumer Watchdog.

"The Supreme Court's upholding of the mandate today made this more crucial than ever," Court added. "It just means the finish line is postponed a little bit."

The initiative's fate was determined this morning when Los Angeles County submitted its random-sample count of valid signatures. The county reported that 66.6 percent of signatures were valid, falling short of the 69 percent threshold necessary to have enough valid signatures statewide to avoid a full count.

Court said delaying the measure until the 2014 ballot will give his organization more time to raise money to "make sure this gets done right, no matter how much the health insurance companies spend against us."

"We have a better chance of victory by gathering resources over the next two years," he said.

He also said the delay may wind up helping his cause because the individual mandate part of the federal Affordable Care Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled constitutional, will require all Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty in 2015.

"So voters will be really educated about the cost of health insurance at that moment," Court said.