Rate review bill faces uphill battle in California Senate

A California bill that would let the insurance commissioner block excessive rate hikes is headed to state Senate floor, where it likely faces a tough fight.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill on a party-line vote, with Democrats in support and Republicans opposed. The House already approved the bill, reports the Associated Press.

Assemblyman Mike Feuer, the bill's author, has been working with Senate Democrats to craft amendments to help it pass the Senate. However, even if it makes it through the Senate, the bill's fate with Gov. Jerry Brown is uncertain. His finance department recently announced that the additional rate review would require more than 180 additional employees and could increase costs by $57.7 million through hearings and appeals.

Groups representing insurers, doctors, and hospitals oppose the bill, alleging it would regulate rates without addressing medical cost inflation that drives rate increases. "Although AB52 has moved to the floor of the Senate, it is clear that the wheels on this misguided proposal are coming off in the closing weeks of this legislative session," said Patrick Johnston, president of the California Association of Health Plans.

The California Public Employees' Retirement System, the nation's largest public pension fund, also recently announced it's opposition of the bill, saying it could increase complexity and interfere in the fund's ability to negotiate health benefits, the AP reports.

To learn more:
- read the rate review bill
- see the AP article

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