Posted: August 06, 2022, 07:00 am
HARTFORD — State Sen. Tony Huang has released a package of resources and links to help individuals who wish to offer comment before the state Department of Insurance on Aug. 15 as an appointed panel reviews requests for — in some cases — double-digit rate increases for health insurance. providing up to 24% in the following year. This year there are 13 health insurance claims made by nine health insurance companies.
Hwang, who is a member of Newtown’s legislative delegation and the GOP leader on the Insurance and Real Estate and Public Health Committees, also offered to take testimony directly to the state insurance commissioner by the date of that hearing.
Along with his colleague and Senate GOP leader Kevin Kelly, Huang also fought and succeeded in moving the 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 people who are affected to voice their struggles and challenge these exorbitant rate hikes,” Huang said in a statement issued to The Bee of Newtown. “We need transparency and accountability from insurance companies and CID to the public who will be burdened by these exorbitant cost increases.”
Until now, CID’s review process in its nondescript downtown office offered limited access and technology to accommodate public testimony and participation during the procedural process of reviewing the merits of each relevant proposal. That process, Huang said, is frustrating because it doesn’t provide an opportunity to challenge and question the veracity of the claim.
“Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly and I recently wrote to CID Commissioner Andrew Mays requesting 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 transparency and accountability to be exchanged and were joined by Ted Doolittle, an advocate for CT Healthcare, who shared our frustration and also questioned the justification for these staggering proposed rate increases.
Commissioner Mays has agreed to hold the public hearing on Monday, August 15, at 9 a.m. in the Legislative Office Building at the State Capitol. The hearing can also be viewed on CT-N online, via the CID Facebook page or by dialing into a telephone conference line.
“I will personally hand over your statement to the CID,” he said.
An email request is also required for those who wish to sign up to testify in person remotely via MS Team video link.
Request for AG denied
Although there had been talk that the scheduled hearing might be delayed after a request by State Attorney William Tong, state Insurance Commissioner Andrew N. Mays says the hearing will go ahead as planned.
The AG said the delay is warranted as the US Senate debates extending the Federal Advance Premium Tax Credit. At CID’s request, these insurers built into their exchange rates an assumption that these tax credits would expire on Jan. 1, 2023. This assumption was identified as a significant driver behind the double-digit increases in asking rates, Tong said in a release.
“Extending the tax credit would be a game-changer and could significantly reduce the need for an increase. It would be a breach of our duty to consumers to proceed with a rate hearing based on what now appears to be a poor assumption. If Congress, as expected, votes to extend federal tax credits for advance premiums, claims must be reconsidered – reflecting significant savings for consumers – before any further steps are taken,” said Attorney General Tong.
Mays, on the other hand, suggested it might be a good time to clarify the actuarial rate review process and the impact federal subsidies have on health insurance rates to eliminate misunderstandings.
“Although Congress has not yet voted to extend the ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) increase in federal expanded premium tax credits and the continued removal of the income cap for receiving these tax credits, as a member of the Board of our Affordable Care Act (ACA) Exchange Access Health CT (AHCT), I was a strong supporter of expanding these increases,” Mays said. “Indeed, during meetings this year with members of Connecticut’s delegation in Washington, I conveyed that support, I was pleased to hear from them that they also wholeheartedly support continuing, and I am grateful to them for all the work they have done to help consumers in Connecticut. “
Mays said these subsidies lower the cost of insurance for consumers once actuarially appropriate rates are established.
“We are currently conducting a full actuarial review of the rates submitted,” the insurance commissioner added. “Despite suggestions to the contrary, CID has not asked healthcare providers to accept that the ARPA extension will expire on 1/1/23. Rather, we had already asked each carrier to explain how they used the federal subsidy assumption in their 2023 premium data projections so that we would have the information and flexibility to quickly address any changes.”
Anyone considering providing testimony, supporting or opposing the panel, can read supporting informational documents by visiting the following links:
Sen Kelly, Hwang Slam Request to Raise Health Insurance Rates — CLICK HERE
CT Republican Leaders Renew Calls to Open State Capitol to Public Hearing on Proposed Health Insurance Rate Increases — CLICK HERE
Sen Kelly, Formica and Hwang Letter to CT Insurance Committee 7-11 — CLICK HERE
Response from Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mays to Sen. Kelly, Sen. Hwang Regarding Request for Transparent and Accountable Public Hearing — CLICK HERE
Insurance Department Update Public Hearing Notice – CLICK HERE
Editor John Vockett can be reached at [email protected]
State Sen. Tony Huang (R28)