California insurers get another year without rate reviews

A bill that would have granted the California insurance commissioner more oversight in regulating health insurance rates has died in the Senate. This is the fourth time in four years that lawmakers haven't been able to pass insurance oversight regulation in California, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Assemblyman and bill author Mike Feuer said he is pulling AB 52, which just made it to the Senate floor last week, from consideration because he can't garner enough votes, but plans to introduce the bill again during the next legislative session. With Republican lawmakers opposing rate review, Feuer needed at least 21 of the 25 Senate Democrats to support the measure and, despite continued talks, at least five Senate Democrats refused to support the bill, the Associated Press reports. One senator, for example, wouldn't back it without amendments addressing how to limit political influence and whether outside parties could intervene in rate cases.

The bill's progression through California's legislature was closely watched and intensely lobbied--supporters donated an average of almost $192,000 from 2007 through 2010 to each of the six senators who voted for it in the Senate Appropriations Committee, the AP notes.

Despite this latest defeat, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said he will continue working to gain support for more rate oversight, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "First and foremost, AB 52 is still alive," he said. "We've made a lot of progress on this critical bill, having moved it to the Senate floor. The bottom line is that the work is not over."

To learn more:
- read the Los Angeles Times article
- see the San Francisco Chronicle article
- check out the Associated Press article

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