Hwang creates resources for insurance rate hike opponents

Published: August 06, 2022 07:00

HARTFORD – State Sen. Tony Hwang has released a packet of resources and links to help individuals who want to provide feedback before the state Department of Insurance on Aug. 15 as a panel reviews — in some cases — insurance rate increase requests double-digit health up to 24% next year. This year, 13 requests for health insurance fees were made by nine health insurers.

Hwang, who is a member of the Newtown Legislative Delegation and the Republican chairman of the Insurance and Real Estate and Public Health Committees, is also offering to submit testimony directly to the state Insurance Commissioner by the date of that hearing.

Along with colleague and Senate GOP Leader Kevin Kelly, Hwang also fought and was successful in moving the hearing from the Insurance Department’s downtown offices in Hartford to the Legislative Office Building on the state Capitol complex.

“We absolutely need accessible public hearings for affected people to voice their struggles and challenge these unaffordable rate increases,” Hwang said in a statement released to Newtown Bee. “We need transparency and accountability from Insurance Companies and CID to the public who will be burdened by these excessive cost increases.”

Until now, the CID’s review process in its nondescript downtown office provided limited access and technology to accommodate public testimony and participation during the procedural process of reviewing the merits of each respective proposal. This process, Hwang said, is frustrating because it provides no opportunity to challenge and question the authenticity of the claim.

“Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly and I recently wrote to CID Commissioner Andrew Mais asking that the hearing be held at the State Capitol and provide in-person and virtual access for residents and businesses. We called for a hearing to allow for transparency and accountability and were joined by CT health care advocate Ted Doolittle, who shared our frustration and also questioned the justification for these staggering proposed rate increases.

Commissioner Mais has now agreed to hold a public hearing on Monday, August 15, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Legislative Office Building at the State Capitol. The hearing can also be viewed on CT-N online, on the CID Facebook page, or by calling into a conference call line.

Hwang reminds anyone who wants to submit and share their testimony that they can e-mail [email protected] with their name and testimony attached, notifying the senator at [email protected] gov.

“I will personally submit your testimony to the CID,” he said.

An email request is also required for those who wish to register to testify in person remotely via the MS Team video link.

The AG request was denied

While there was talk that the scheduled hearing might be postponed after a request from state Attorney General William Tong, State Insurance Commissioner Andrew N. Mais says the hearing will go ahead as planned.

The AG said the delay was justified as the US Senate debates extending the Federal Premium Tax Credit. At CID’s request, these insurers built into their exchange rates an assumption that these tax credits would expire on January 1, 2023. This assumption was identified as a significant driver behind the double-digit claim rate increase, 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 dereliction of our duty to consumers to proceed with a fee hearing based on what now appears to be a bad guess. If Congress, as expected, votes to extend the Federal Premium Tax Credits, the claims must be reviewed – reflecting significant savings to consumers – before further steps are taken,” said Attorney General Tong.

Mais, on the other hand, suggested that it might be a good time to clarify the actuarial rate review process and the impact that federal subsidies have on health insurance rates to eliminate misunderstandings.

“While Congress has not yet voted to extend the increase within ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) of the Federal Advanced Premium Tax Credits and the continued removal of the upper income limit for receiving these tax credits, as a member of the Board of our Affordable Care Act (ACA) Exchange Access Health CT (AHCT), I have been a strong supporter of expanding these increases,” Mais said. “Indeed, during meetings this year with members of the delegation of Connecticut to Washington, I relayed that support, I was pleased to hear from them that they also wholeheartedly supported the continuation, and I am grateful to them for all the work they have done to help Connecticut consumers.”

Mais said these subsidies lower the cost of insurance for consumers once actuarially appropriate rates are set.

“We are currently conducting a full actuarial review of the fee submissions,” the insurance commissioner added. “Despite suggestions to the contrary, CID did not ask healthcare operators to assume that the ARPA extension would expire on 1/1/23. Rather, we had already asked each carrier to explain how they used the federal subsidy assumption in their projection of premium data for 2023 so that we would have the information and flexibility to quickly address any changes.

Anyone considering providing evidence, support or objection to the hearing panel can read the informative supporting documents by visiting the following links:

Sen Kelly, Hwang Slam Health Insurance Rate Increase Request — CLICK HERE

CT Republican leaders renew calls to open State Capitol to public hearing on proposed health insurance rate hike — CLICK HERE

Sen Kelly, Formica and Hwang Letter to CT 7-11 Insurance Committee — CLICK HERE

Response from Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais to Sen Kelly, Sen Hwang on request for transparent and accountable public hearing — CLICK HERE

Department of Insurance updated public hearing notice — CLICK HERE

Editor John Voket can be reached at [email protected]

State Sen. Tony Hwang (R28)

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