Texas not reviewing insurer rate hikes

Texas officials, led by Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas), haven't been complying with the reform law's health insurance rate review requirements, consumer advocates say. Although the law requires states to review insurers' proposals that would rate raise rates more than 10 percent, the state hasn't completed any such reviews, reported NPR's Shots blog. Insurers have made nine requests since September, but the reviews are still pending. Meanwhile, however, insurers can raise the rates without a rate review, and one payer has raised rates by 20 percent on three policies in Texas.

"We were growing increasingly frustrated," Mimi Garcia, organizing director for advocacy group Texas Well and Healthy, told NPR. The Texas Department of Insurance has been "very unresponsive," she said, adding that "they have not returned calls. They have not returned repeated requests."

But Alexis Ahlstrom, who works on insurance oversight for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, said Texas officials may need more time to conduct reviews. "You want the department of insurance to being doing a thorough review and that sometimes can take time," she said. "They might go back to the issuer and ask for more information. They may be working with the issuer to lower a proposed increase. So the end result might be very positive for Texas consumers when the department of insurance does make these determinations." Article