Obama to propose limiting health insurance rate hikes

By Chris Rizo | Feb 22, 2010

Barack Obama (D)

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-U.S. President Barack Obama today will propose giving federal authorities the power to limit insurance company rate hikes.

The White House proposal is part of the health care overhaul plan the president is set to unveil Monday.

Obama's plan would allow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to block insurance premium increases and would even grant authorities the power to order insurers to issue consumer rebates.

State attorneys general have long been active in lobbying against steep increases in health insurance premiums. Republican Mike Cox of Michigan and Democrat Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, for instance, have opposed efforts by health insurers to raise rates.

Obama's plan would create a new Health Insurance Rate Authority, made up of health industry experts, that would issue an annual report setting the parameters for rate increases, the New York Times reported Monday.

The White House plan is modeled after legislation sought by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

It has been reported that broader elements of Obama's health care plan will require most Americans to have health care insurance.

Today's announcement comes ahead of Thursday's planned bipartisan health care summit, aimed at jumpstarting congressional efforts to change the way the nation's health insurers do business.

"I don't want to see this meeting turn into political theater, with each side simply reciting talking points and trying to score political points," Obama said in his weekly radio address Saturday.

The president was forced to renew his push for a national health care overhaul after Democrats last month lost their 60th seat in the Senate, which was needed to advance the Democratic-backed plan.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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