Hwang Creates Resource For Insurance Rate Hike Opponents

Published: Aug 06, 2022 07:00 AM

HARTFORD — State Senator Tony Hwang has released a package of resources and links to help individuals who wish to offer commentary before the State Insurance Dept on August 15, as an appointed panel reviews — in some cases — requests for double-digit health insurance rate increases as high as 24% next year. This year, there are 13 health insurance rate request filings made by nine health insurers.

Hwang, who is a member of the Newtown Legislative Delegation and the Republican Committee leader on the Insurance and Real Estate Committee and the Public Health Committee, is also offering to hand deliver testimony directly to the state Insurance Commissioner up to the date of that hearing.

Along with colleague and Senate GOP leader Kevin Kelly, Hwang also fought for and was successful in getting that hearing relocated from the Insurance Dept’s downtown Hartford offices, to the Legislative Office Building at the State Capitol complex.

“We absolutely need accessible public hearings for people impacted to voice their struggles and challenge these unaffordable rate increases,” 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 will be burdened by these excessive cost increases.”

Up to now, the CID review process at its nondescript downtown office offered limited access and technology to accommodate public testimony and participation during the procedural process of reviewing the merits of each respective proposal. That process, Hwang said, is frustrating because it affords no opportunity to challenge and question the veracity 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 to provide both in-person and virtual access to residents and businesses. We called for a hearing to allow for exchange of transparency and accountability and we were joined by CT Healthcare Advocate Ted Doolittle who shared our frustration and also questioned the justification of these staggering proposed rate increases as well.

Commissioner Mais has now agreed to hold the public hearing on Monday, August 15, starting at 9 am at the Legislative Office Building at the State Capitol. The hearing can also be viewed on CT-N online, over the CID’s Facebook page, or by dialing into a telephone conference line.

Hwang reminds anyone wishing to submit and share their testimony that they can e-mail [email protected] with their name and testimony attached, cc-ing the senator at [email protected]

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

An e-mail request is also needed for those who wish to sign up to testify in person remotely via MS Team video link.

AG Request Denied

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

The AG said the delay was justified as the US Senate debates extension of the Federal Advance Premium Tax Credit. At CID’s request, these insurers built into their on-exchange rates an assumption that these tax credits would expire on January 1, 2023. That assumption was identified as a significant driver behind the double-digit request rate hikes, Tong said in a release.

“The tax credit extension would be a game changer, and may significantly reduce the need for an increase. It would be a dereliction of our duty to consumers to proceed with a hearing on rates built on what now appears to be a bad guess. Should Congress, as expected, vote to extend the Federal Advance Premium Tax Credits, requests must be revised — reflecting substantial savings to consumers — before any further steps are taken,” Attorney General Tong stated.

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

“While Congress has not yet voted to extend the increase within ARPA (the American Rescue Plan Act) of the Federal Advanced Premium Tax Credits and the continued removal of the upper income limit on receiving these tax credits, as a Board member of our Affordable Care Act (ACA) Exchange Access Health CT (AHCT), I have been a strong supporter of extending these increases,” Mais said. “Indeed, during meetings this year with members of the Connecticut delegation in Washington, I conveyed that support, was pleased to hear from them 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 the cost of insurance to consumers once the actuarially appropriate rates are established.

“We are currently conducting a full actuarial review of the rate filings,” the insurance commissioner added. “Suggestions to the contrary notwithstanding, CID did not ask the health carriers to assume the ARPA extension would expire on 1/1/23. To the contrary, we had already asked each carrier to explain how they used the assumption of the federal subsidy in their data projection of premiums for 2023 so that we have the information and flexibility to quickly address any changes.”

Anyone considering supplying testimony, support, or opposition to the hearing panel can read supporting informational documents by visiting the following links:

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

CT Republican Leaders Renew Calls to Open State Capitol for Public Hearing on Proposed Health Insurance Rate Increases — CLICK HERE

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

Response from Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais to Sen Kelly, Sen Hwang on Request for Transparent and Accountable Public Hearing — CLICK HERE

Insurance Department updated Public Hearing notice — CLICK HERE

Editor John Voket can be reached at [email protected]

State Senator Tony Hwang (R28)

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