Published: 06/08/2022 07:00
HARTFORD — State Sen. Tony Hwang has released a package of resources and links to help individuals who want to comment before the state Department of Insurance on Aug. 15, when an appointed panel will consider requests for — in some cases — double-digit increases in health insurance rates. next year up to 24%. This year, 13 requests for health insurance rates are submitted from nine health insurance companies.
Hwang, who is a member of Newtown’s legislative delegation and the Republican chairman of the Insurance and Real Estate and Public Health Committees, is also offering to take testimony directly to the state insurance commissioner until the date of that hearing.
Along with colleague and Senate GOP leader Kevin Kelly, Hwang also fought and succeeded in moving that hearing from the Insurance Department’s offices in downtown Hartford to the Legislative Office Building in the State Capitol complex.
“We absolutely need accessible public hearings for affected people to voice their concerns and challenge this unaffordable rate hike,” Hwang said in a statement. Newtown bee. “We need transparency and accountability from insurance companies and CID to the public who will be burdened by these excessive cost increases.”
Until now, the CID’s review process in its low-key downtown office has offered limited access and technology to accommodate public testimony and participation during the procedural review process for the merits of each relevant proposal. The process, Hwang said, is frustrating because it provides no opportunity to question and challenge the veracity of the application.
“Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly and I recently wrote to CID Commissioner Andrew Mais to request that the hearing be held at the State Capitol and that both in-person and virtual access be provided to residents and businesses. We called for a hearing to allow for an exchange of transparency and accountability, and were joined by CT Healthcare attorney Ted Doolittle, who shared our frustration and also questioned the merits of these staggering proposed rate increases.
Commissioner Mais has now agreed to hold a public hearing on Monday, August 15, beginning at 9:00 a.m. in the Legislative Office Building at the State Capitol. The hearing can also be watched on CT-N online, through the CID Facebook page or by dialing the telephone conference line.
“I will personally deliver your testimony to the CID,” he said.
An email request is also required for those who wish to sign up to testify in person remotely via the MS Team video link.
AG request denied
While there has been talk that the scheduled hearing may be delayed at the request of Attorney General William Tong, state Insurance Commissioner Andrew N. Mais says the hearing will go ahead as planned.
The AG said the delay was justified as the US Senate debates expanding the federal advance premium tax. At CID’s request, these insurers built into their exchange rates an assumption that these tax credits would expire on January 1, 2023. This assumption was identified as a significant factor behind the double-digit increase in claim rates, Tong said in a statement.
“Extending the tax credit would be a game changer and can significantly reduce the need for an increase. It would be a dereliction of our duty to consumers to continue hearing about rates based on what now appears to be a poor estimate. Should Congress, as expected, vote to extend the federal advance premium tax credits, applications must be revised before any further action is taken – reflecting significant savings for consumers,” said Attorney General Tong.
Mais, on the other hand, suggested it might be a good time to clarify the actuarial rate review process and the effect of federal subsidies on health insurance rates to clear up misunderstandings.
“While Congress has not yet voted to extend ARPA’s increase in federal advanced premium tax credits and continue to remove the income cap for receiving these tax credits, as a board member of our Affordable Care Act (ACA) Exchange Access Health CT (AHCT), I am a strong supporter of extending these increases,” said Mais. “Indeed, during meetings with members of the Connecticut delegation in Washington this year, I expressed that support, I was pleased to hear from them that they also wholeheartedly supported the continuation, and I am grateful for all the work they have done to help Connecticut consumers. “
Mais said these subsidies lower the cost of insurance for consumers when actuarially reasonable rates are set.
“We are currently conducting a full actuarial review of rate submissions,” the insurance commissioner added. “Despite suggestions to the contrary, CID did not ask health professionals to assume that the ARPA extension would expire on 1/1/2023. To the contrary, we have already asked each carrier to explain how they used the federal subsidy assumption in their 2023 premium data projection, so that we have the information and flexibility to quickly deal with any changes.”
Anyone considering providing testimony, supporting or opposing the hearing panel, can read the supporting information documents at the following links:
Sen Kelly, Hwang Slam Health Insurance Rate Increase Request — CLICK HERE
CT Republican leaders renew calls to open state capitol to public hearing on proposed health insurance rate hike — CLICK HERE
Sen Kelly, Formica and Hwang CT Insurance Committee Letter 7-11 — CLICK HERE
Response from Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais to Sen Kelly, Sen Hwang on Request for Transparent and Accountable Public Hearing — CLICK HERE
The Insurance Department has updated the Public Hearing Notice — CLICK HERE
Editor John Voket can be reached at [email protected]
State Sen. Tony Hwang (R28)