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BUSINESS
May 19, 2012 | Los Angeles Times
Supporters of a proposed ballot measure seeking tighter regulation of health insurance rates in California turned in 800,000 petition signatures, confident that they will qualify for the Nov. 6 election. In the coming weeks, county election offices and the California secretary of state will determine whether the measure meets the requirement for 504,760 valid signatures of registered voters. The deadline to qualify is June 28. The initiative is expected to spark an expensive campaign battle over rising health insurance rates, which have angered thousands of California consumers in recent years.
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BUSINESS
May 1, 2012 | By Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
Several high-profile business names, such as San Francisco hedge-fund manager Thomas Steyer and agribusiness magnate Stewart Resnick, have contributed to a proposed ballot measure seeking tighter regulation of health insurance rates, according to campaign finance records. These contributions were among $1.5 million in donations reported Monday to the California Secretary of State by Consumer Watchdog, the Santa Monica group leading the ballot drive. A coalition of insurers, hospitals, doctors and business groups opposing the measure has reported $367,200 in donations.
BUSINESS
April 6, 2012 | By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
SACRAMENTO — Aetna, the state's third-largest health insurance company, is raising rates for thousands of small-business customers to a level that state insurance regulators call "excessive. " California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones on Thursday criticized Aetna Life Insurance Co. of Hartford, Conn., for raising health insurance group rates by an average of 8% a year for about 77,000 employees of small companies. The rate increases, which took effect April 1, were as high as 21% in some cases, Jones said.
BUSINESS
April 5, 2012 | By Marc Lifsher
Aetna Life Insurance Co. raised health insurance rates for small employers by an average of 8% a year beginning April 1, a hike that California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones called unreasonable. Jones said Thursday that he'd asked Aetna to withdraw its increase in quarterly rates, affecting 77,000 employees and dependents of small employers. But Jones said he has no legal power to reject Aetna's rate increase, a situation that he said could change if voters back a proposed initiative to require health insurers to seek prior approval from regulators for changes in rates.
BUSINESS
February 2, 2012 | By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
A high-stakes ballot measure to give state regulators the power to approve health insurance rates in California has landed a heavyweight supporter: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. One of California's most respected politicians, Feinstein has come forward as the chief spokeswoman and No. 1 booster of a proposed initiative to regulate hikes in health premiums. "I am proud to tell you that I was the first person to sign a new ballot initiative petition that will reform the health insurance industry in California," Feinstein, a San Francisco Democrat, wrote in an email sent to about 2 million registered voters.
BUSINESS
February 1, 2012 | By Marc Lifsher
  A high-stakes ballot measure to give state regulators the power to approve health insurance rates in California has landed a heavyweight supporter: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. One of California's most respected politicians, Feinstein has come forward as the chief spokeswoman and No. 1 booster of a proposed initiative to regulate hikes in health premiums. "I am proud to tell you that I was the first person to sign a new ballot initiative petition that will reform the health insurance industry in California," Feinstein, a San Francisco Democrat, wrote in an email sent to about 2 million registered voters.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 17, 2012 | By Dean Kuipers
Insurance companies don't care if you believe in climate change or not: Your premiums are going up anyhow. NPR reported Monday that home insurance premiums are going up across the board in response to the record number of tornadoes, floods, fires, blizzards and other heavy weather that hit the country in 2011. The piece features insurance executives at major firms such as Allstate and State Farm saying they are raising rates as much as 10%.  The president of the Insurance Information Institute, a New York-based industry association, says the weather caused about $35 billion of insured damages last year in the U.S. in events that caused a total of $70 billion in economic losses.
BUSINESS
November 26, 2011 | By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
The former "Nader's Raider" who used California's initiative process to regulate auto insurance rates is headed back to the ballot. This time he's spoiling to take on health insurers. Harvey Rosenfield, the combative attorney and consumer advocate who wrote California's landmark Proposition 103 more than two decades ago, is preparing a ballot initiative that would force health insurers to get state government approval before they could raise premiums. Stricter controls are needed to put some restraints on a industry that's reaping fat returns for shareholders and multimillion-dollar salaries for executives while consumers struggle to pay for coverage, Rosenfield said.
NEWS
November 21, 2011 | By Noam N. Levey, Washington Bureau
The Obama administration Monday called on a health insurance company in Pennsylvania to reduce what it is charging small businesses, using a tool in the new healthcare law for the first time to pressure insurers to restrain rising premiums. Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services determined that Everence Insurance Co.'s plan to raise rates on about 5,000 people in Pennsylvania by nearly 12% next year is unreasonable. That rate is not justified by what the insurer was expected to pay out in medical claims in the state, said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
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