CT elected officials criticize double-digit rate increases requested by health insurers

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Connecticut lawmakers are lining up against proposed increases in health insurance rates, with Democrats demanding a public hearing on Wednesday.

Attorney General William Tong and others want a formal hearing with the ability for his office and the Healthcare Advocate to present independent analysis and question insurance industry representatives under oath.

Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais said in an emailed statement that his agency would stick to past practice of scheduling a rate hearing that would take testimony from consumers, consumer advocates, elected officials and other interested parties.

Final 2023 rates will be announced after the hearing and an actuarial review, he said. A court date for early August will be announced this week.

“The department is fully committed to consumer protection and transparency, which is why our hearings are all open to the public and broadcast on the CT-N public affairs network,” Mais said.

Senate Republicans demanded a public hearing on Capitol Hill. They said the proposed rate increases are “outrageous, unacceptable, but sadly not surprising.”

“We’re glad Democrats are saying they want a hearing on this as well, but we need so much more than the typical rate-raising hearings of the past where a select few meet behind closed doors in a small office in front of staff at executive,” said Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly of Stratford, House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora of North Branford and Senate Republican Leader Pro Tem Paul Formica of East Lyme.

Insurance companies that sell policies on and off Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act exchange are seeking an average increase of 20.4% for individual health plans next year, according to details released Friday. by the Connecticut Department of Insurance.

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Carriers with small group plans are asking for an average increase of 14.8%.

ConnectiCare spokesperson Kimberly Kann cited medical and pharmaceutical costs and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on members’ use of services, including obtaining delayed care.

She also cited the expiration this year of tax credits under the American Rescue Plan Act.

Record inflation coincides with an election year, putting officials on the defensive and facing what is expected to be an angry electorate heading to the polls in November.

Republicans have criticized legislative Democrats for not anticipating the cut in federal relief funds, the government-run Medicaid expansion they say has driven up health care costs and the inflation they blame the pandemic and the spending of President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress.

Check back for updates.

Stephen Singer can be reached at [email protected]

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