Santa Monica, CA – The ballot measure to require health insurance companies to get approval before raising their rates narrowly missed qualifying for November’s ballot by Thursday’s deadline, receiving 109% of the signatures necessary to qualify on a random sample verification rather than the required 110%. Elections officials’ projections of 109% validity make the initiative all but certain to appear on the next general election ballot after November.

Consumer Watchdog Campaign said today that the Supreme Court’s ruling requiring all Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or be taxed in 2015 makes the ballot measure’s rate regulation critical to Californians being able to afford coverage.

“We are disappointed because we wanted voters to have their say over escalating rate hikes sooner rather than later,” said Jamie Court, the initiative’s proponent and president of Consumer Watchdog. “Voters will have their say to limit insurance company profiteering, but unfortunately they will have to wait to do it.  Now that the Supreme Court has said Americans must buy health insurance, it’s critical that all Californians be able to afford their insurance. Health insurance companies are on notice that if they raise rates excessively from now on, voters will have final say over those rate hikes, even if they will have to wait for the next general election to do it.”

The ballot measure requires health insurance companies to get approval before raising rates and allows that refunds be ordered on rates that are considered excessive after November 7, 2012.  When voters approve the measure, the insurance commissioner will have the power to retroactively order refunds for excessive rates.

Registrars will now review all of the 794,649 signatures submitted during the next thirty business day to validate the campaign collected the needed 504,760 signatures. The random sample found that 547,601 of the signatures were valid but 555,236 were needed by Thursday to make November’s ballot. The campaign collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, but finished at the last possible moment with about 7,635 too few signatures to meet the 110% random sample requirement.

“We simply did not have the resources or volunteer signatures to do it any quicker,” said Court. “Voters will have the last word, however, and insurance companies will still be accountable for any excessive rates they try to pass on to consumers during the next two years.”
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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 initiative.