What a relief it was earlier this month to learn that the California state Senate Committee on Health gave the nod to a good bill, Assembly Bill 52. The legislation by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, would require health insurers to seek approval from state regulators before raising premiums, copayments or deductibles.
Not surprisingly, the bill was fought tooth and nail by people like Patrick Johnson, president and CEO of the California Association of Health Plans, which lobbies on behalf of the health-insurance industry. “A.B. 52 is unnecessary because existing state and federal laws already offer consumer protections,” he assured committee members.
Not really, Patrick.
Though Californians pay automobile and homeowners insurance every year, with the cost of those premiums thankfully regulated by the state, there’s no such requirement for health-insurance payments. That’s what accounts for the double-digit rate increases insurers like Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield have pushed on California consumers year after year for almost a decade.
A.B. 52 will provide citizens with at least some relief from skyrocketing insurance costs.
A battalion of insurance-company lobbyists will no doubt escalate the fight to kill A.B. 52 as it moves forward through the Legislature. They’ve managed to kill similar bills in years past. Let’s not let them defeat it this time.