Our wily California Insurance Commissioner, Dave Jones, is at it again! He just won't give up on supporting AB-52. Now that it has made it out of the Assembly, past the clutches of Republicans and a few bad-acting Democrats -- and, not to boast, but you should read that linked diary -- he wants us to get all active again and make six phone calls to the members of the Health Committee of the State Senate.
Do we gotta, Dave? Can't we just have our health insurance premiums increase 50% per year instead? This is so unreasonable! If health insurance execs don't make obscene salaries, how will they be able to create jobs in Asian and Latin American sweatshops?
Oh, all right -- let's see what the guy has to say before we decide whether to call.
Says Commissioner Jones:
As Insurance Commissioner, my office gets calls every day from Californians who cannot afford health insurance premium increases. In order to rein in skyrocketing health insurance rate increases I am sponsoring Assembly Bill 52 (Feuer and Huffman). AB 52 would give me the authority to reject excessive health insurance rate increases before they go into effect.
Many insurance companies are raising rates multiple times in the same year, creating a hardship for more and more Californians. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that medical inflation has been between 3.5% - 4% per year each of the last few years. That makes it difficult to understand why the cumulative rate increases for many policyholders have been 50, 60, 80% or even higher since 2008. The five largest health insurers in this country made a combined profit of $11.7 billion last year. That was a 17% increase over the 2009 profit of $9.9 billion and a 51% increase over the $7.8 billion made in 2008.
Insurance Commissioners in many other states have the authority to reject excessive health insurance rate hikes. But I have this authority only when it comes to auto and homeowners' insurance. It's only right that the Insurance Commissioner have that same authority for something as important to each and every Californian as health insurance.
Many of you contacted Assemblymembers in May or early June asking them to vote for AB 52. Thanks to you, the bill passed the Assembly despite the intense lobbying efforts by the health insurance industry. Now, AB 52 moves on to the Senate where it will be heard in the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday, June 29th. Please call members of the Senate Health Committee TODAY and ask them to vote for AB 52 when it's up for consideration on June 29th.
The following is a list of the Senate Health Committee members and their Capitol Office telephone numbers:Senator Ed Hernandez (Chair) -- 916-651-4024
Senator Elaine Alquist --- 916-651-4013
Senator Kevin de Leon -- 916-651-4022
Senator Mark DeSaulnier (AB 52 co-author) -- 916-651-4007
Senator Michael Rubio -- 916-651-4016
Senator Lois Wolk (AB 52 co-author) -- 916-651-4005
Thank you again for taking the time to call and support AB 52. Your efforts have had an enormous impact on the success of the bill thus far.
If the Department of Insurance can assist you with an insurance problem or provide you with additional information, please contact our Consumer Hotline at 1-800-927-4357 or visit our website at www.insurance.ca.gov.
Six calls in six days -- sounds like a lot of effort, but I suppose that to prevent obscene and unjustified rises in health insurance premiums, it might be worth it.
OK, you all know the drill: make the calls, report that you've done so -- we call that "peer pressure" for your fellow Kosters! -- and let us know where these six state Senators stand!