New York's highest court dashed efforts by the state's insurance superintendent to limit rate increases implemented by Excellus Blue Cross and Blue Shield in 2002. The Court of Appeals ruled that there was no room for the superintendent's discretionary oversight in a 1995 law that allows health insurers to increase rates when their certified expenses exceed 80 cents on the premium dollar. Specifically, when Excellus filed for an average 22% rate increase for 2002, Superintendent Gregory Serio reduced the increase to a 20% maximum, said Bartley Costello, an attorney for Excellus. The company moved forward with the 22% rate increase and filed the lawsuit. Costello said bills pending in the state Legislature promise continuing battles over the issue. Serio issued a statement saying his office was "clearly disappointed." "We're hopeful the Legislature will quickly take up the department's health insurance rating legislation, which would restore appropriate regulatory oversight to the rate-setting process," he said. -- by Cinda Becker
Court says N.Y. can't limit insurer's rate increase
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