Published: 06/08/2022 07:00
HARTFORD — State Senator Tony Hwang has released a package of resources and links to help people who wish to comment before the state Insurance Department on August 15 while an appointed panel considers requests for double-digit increases in health insurance rates – in some cases up to to 24% next year. This year there are 13 health insurance tariff applications from nine health insurers.
Hwang, who is a member of the Newtown Legislative Delegation and chairs the Republican committees on the Insurance and Real Estate Committee and the Public Health Committee, also offers to testify directly with the state Insurance Commissioner by the date of that hearing.
Along with fellow Senate GOP leader Kevin Kelly, Hwang also campaigned to have this hearing moved from the Department of Insurance offices in downtown Hartford to the Legislative Office Building in the State Capitol complex and was successful in to reschedule this hearing.
“We absolutely need accessible public hearings for the people affected to voice their struggles and challenge these prohibitive rate hikes,” Hwang said in a statement issued to The Newtown Bee. “We need transparency and accountability from insurance companies and the CID to the public who are burdened by these excessive increases in costs.”
To date, the CID review process in its nondescript downtown office has offered limited access and technology to allow for public testimony and participation during the process of reviewing the merits of each proposal. That process, Hwang said, is frustrating because it doesn’t provide an opportunity to challenge and challenge the veracity of the request.
“Kevin Kelly, the Republican Senate leader, and I recently wrote to CID Commissioner Andrew Mais requesting that the hearing be held at the State Capitol and that residents and businesses be granted both in-person and virtual access. We called for a hearing to enable the sharing of transparency and accountability, and we were joined by CT Healthcare Advocate Ted Doolittle, who shared our frustration and also questioned the justification for these amazing proposed rate increases.
Commissioner Mais has now agreed to hold the public hearing beginning at 9 a.m. Monday, August 15 in the Legislative Office Building at the State Capitol. The hearing can also be viewed online on CT-N, via the CID’s Facebook page, or by dialing into a conference call line.
“I will personally hand over your testimony to the CID,” he said.
An email request is also required for those wishing to sign up to testify in person remotely via MS Team video link.
AG request rejected
While talks were held the scheduled hearing could be postponed following a request from Attorney General William Tong, State Insurance Commissioner Andrew N. Mais said the hearing would go ahead as scheduled.
The AG said the delay was warranted as the U.S. Senate is debating an extension to the Federal Advance Premium Tax Credit. At CID’s request, these insurers have incorporated into their exchange rates the assumption that these tax credits would expire on January 1, 2023. That assumption has been identified as a key factor behind the double-digit rate hikes, Tong said in a press release.
“The extension of the tax credit would be a game changer and could significantly reduce the need for an increase. It would be a failure of our duty to consumers to hold a consultation on tariffs based on what now appears to be an incorrect estimate. If Congress votes to extend Federal Advance Premium Tax Credits as expected, the proposals will need to be revised – reflecting significant savings for consumers – before further action is taken,” Attorney General Tong said.
Mais, on the other hand, suggested that it might be a good time to clarify the process of reviewing actuarial rates and the impact of federal subsidies on health insurance rates to clear up any misunderstandings.
“While Congress has not yet voted to extend the increase in Federal Advanced Premium Tax Credits under ARPA (the American Rescue Plan Act) and the further lifting of the income ceiling for receipt of these tax credits as a board member of our Affordable Care Act ( ACA) Exchange Access Health CT (AHCT), I’m a strong supporter of expanding these increases,” Mais said. “Indeed, at meetings this year with members of the Connecticut delegation in Washington, I conveyed this support, was pleased to hear from them that they also wholeheartedly supported the continuation, and am grateful to them for all the work they have done to help Connecticut consumers. ”
Mais said these subsidies reduce insurance costs for consumers once actuarially reasonable rates are set.
“We are currently conducting a full actuarial review of rate documents,” added the insurance commissioner. “Despite suggestions to the contrary, CID has not asked ambulance operators to assume that the ARPA extension would expire on 1/1/23. In fact, we had already asked each airline to explain how they used the federal subsidy assumption in their data projection of premiums for 2023 so that we have the information and flexibility to respond quickly to changes.”
Anyone considering testifying, supporting, or objecting to the hearing panel may read supporting information documents by visiting the following links:
Sen Kelly, Hwang Slam Request for Health Insurance Rate Increase – CLICK HERE
CT Republican leaders renew call to open state capitol to public hearing on proposed health insurance rate increases – CLICK HERE
Letter from Sen Kelly, Formica and Hwang to CT Insurance Committee 7-11 – CLICK HERE
Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais Response to Sen Kelly, Sen Hwang on Request for Transparent and Accountable Public Hearing – CLICK HERE
The Insurance Division has updated the Notice of Public Hearing – CLICK HERE
Editor John Voket can be reached at [email protected]
State Senator Tony Hwang (R28)