Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review of Insurance Rate Hikes in Texas

          The Affordable Care Act was controversial in its creation, and was recently brought back into the spotlight as the Supreme Court upheld the legislation’s individual mandate clause. However, despite its legal winnings and public support, Governor Perry continues to be outspoken against the President’s health care proposal. A shock to no one, he reprimands the legislation, stating that not only will he refuse to expand Medicaid in Texas, but also prevent creation of an insurance exchange.
          Although the Republican is often just a lot of talk, many advocates have accused the Perry administration for stalling on insurance rate reviews. A provision of the act designed to make insurance more affordable, the functioning federal law requires every state to conduct a review whenever an insurer wants to increase premiums more than ten percent. This review is designed to help protect small businesses and individuals who buy their own policies. And although the state cannot stop a rate increase, the government can say whether the change is fair or foul - giving the opportunity for individuals to shop for a more just policy. In the short run, the review helps keep the insurance market more transparent. In the long run, it also helps prepare the state for future legislation, potentially allowing the government to strike down the rate hikes (seen currently with automobile and home insurance).
          Such stalling, as described by KUT, is not only incredibly irresponsible by the Governor, it is also illegal: especially as the federal government gave the state $1 million dollars to perform the reviews. Though some individuals may argue that such investigations take time, nine reviews, all of which have been proposed so far, are still ongoing. This allows insurance companies to increase their rates, without public knowledge of whether such hikes are fair. This is extremely selfish on the part of Perry and his Republican cronies, worrying only about preserving their conservative viewpoints, instead of doing their job. As legislators, one would think upholding the law and acting in the best interest of their constituents would be of primary importance. Obviously, our elected officials think otherwise. In my opinion, serving the electorate and providing the best healthcare for Texans is the government's duty. If Perry does not like the President's plan, despite being law, instead of simply complaining, he should propose an alternative. To date, I do not know of any such plan. With state officials essentially spitting in the face of federal legislation, who knows what sort of disobedience will come next. This is a slippery slope all Texans should be afraid of. If those elected to help uphold the law don’t follow it, why should its citizens?

Source: “Texas Slow to Review Health Insurance Rate Hikes.” KUT News

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