Two Democrats on Friday said they would use their posts on congressional oversight committees to ensure that insurance companies do not take shortcuts when they begin to comply with tighter industry restrictions and chided several insurers that they say already have.
Lawmakers vow to monitor insurers
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, lashed out about reports of WellPoint and other insurers attempting to skirt some of the provisions, including shifting services to show a more favorable medical-loss ratio and dropping seriously ill patients. “We're definitely going to have to keep our eye on that to make sure that they're not allowed to boost their premiums,” she said during a conference call sponsored by the advocacy group Families USA.
Schakowsky also outlined a number of controls Congress could implement in order to sway companies into full compliance, including the creation of a government-backed health plan or a rate-control board.
“I think it could be at their peril,” she said.
Over the past week, the largest insurers have said that they would comply with major components of the reform law ahead of schedule. And on Thursday, WellPoint subsidiary Anthem Blue Cross of California said it would halt a proposed 39% increase in premiums for some policyholders.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), a member of the Senate's health panel and a co-author of the provision requiring insurers to maintain certain medical-loss ratio requirements, said that premium increases would occur, but under the new law, they would do so in check. “We know that premium rates are going to continue to go up, they're just not going to go up at the unsustainable pace that they were going up,” he said.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.