Hwang creates resources for opponents of insurance rate hikes

Posted: August 06, 2022 07:00 am

HARTFORD — State Sen. Tony Hwang has released a packet of resources and links to help people who want to comment before the Department of State Insurance on Aug. 15 as a select committee considers — in some cases — requests for double-digit health insurance rate hikes to and 24% the following year. This year, there are 13 applications for health insurance rates made by nine health insurers.

Hwang, who is a member of the Newtown Legislature and the Republican chairman of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee and the Public Health Committee, is also offering to testify directly to the state Insurance Commissioner by the date of that hearing.

Along with colleague and Senate GOP leader Kevin Kelly, Hwang fought and succeeded in having that hearing moved from the Insurance Department’s offices in downtown Hartford to the legislative 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 issued on The Newtown Bee. “We need transparency and accountability from Insurance Companies and CID to the public who will be burdened by these exorbitant cost increases.”

Until now, the CID’s review process in its nondescript downtown office offered limited access and technology to facilitate public testimony and participation during the procedural process of considering the merits of each respective proposal. This process, Hwang said, is frustrating because it gives no opportunity to question and challenge the truth of the request.

“Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly and I recently wrote to CID Commissioner Andrew Mais requesting that the hearing be held at the State Capitol and that we provide both in-person and virtual access to residents and businesses. We requested a hearing to allow for transparency and accountability and were met by CT Healthcare Advocate Ted Doolittle, who shared our frustration and also questioned the justification for these astounding proposed rate increases.

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

Hwang reminds anyone who wishes 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] ct.gov.

“I will personally deliver your statement to the CID,” he said.

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

AG request denied

While discussion was taking place, the scheduled hearing may be postponed at the request of State Attorney General William Tong, State Insurance Commissioner Andrew N. Mais says the hearing will continue as scheduled.

The AG said the delay was warranted as the US Senate debates extending the Federal Advance Tax Credit. At the CID’s request, these insurers built into their exchange rates an assumption that these tax credits would expire on Jan. 1, 2023. This assumption was identified as a major factor behind the double-digit demand rate increases, Tong said in a release.

“Extending the tax credit would be a game-changer and can significantly reduce the need for an increase. It would be a breach of our duty to consumers to proceed with a pricing hearing based on what now appears to be poor guesswork. If Congress, as expected, votes to extend the Federal Advance Tax Credits, the claims must be revised—reflecting significant savings to consumers—before further action is taken,” said Attorney General Tong.

Mais, instead, suggested it might be a good time to clarify the actuarial rate review process and the impact federal subsidies have on health insurance rates to clear up misunderstandings.

“While Congress has yet to vote to extend the ARPA increase in Federal Advanced Premium Tax Credits and the continued removal of the income ceiling for receiving these tax credits, as a member of the Board of Directors of our Affordable Care Act (ACA) Exchange Access Health CT (AHCT), I was a strong supporter of extending these increases,” said Mais. “Indeed, during meetings this year with members of the Connecticut delegation in Washington, I conveyed 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 consumers of Connecticut. “

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

“We are currently conducting a full actuarial review of the rate statements,” the insurance commissioner added. “Despite suggestions to the contrary, CID has not asked health agencies to assume that the ARPA extension will expire on 1/1/23. Instead, we had already asked each carrier to explain how it used the federal subsidy assumption in projecting premium data for 2023 so that we would have the information and flexibility to quickly address any changes.”

Anyone considering providing testimony, support or objection to the hearing panel can read the supporting information 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 hikes — CLICK HERE

Sen Kelly, Formica and Hwang Letter 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 Department of Insurance has updated the Public Hearing notice — CLICK HERE

Editor John Voket can be reached at [email protected]

State Sen. Tony Hwang (R28)

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