Blue Shield rate hike draws Democratic ire

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek), who served for eight years as California's insurance commissioner, denounced Blue Shield health insurance this week for its plan to hike rates by as much as 59% for individuals on private plans."[The] egregious rate hike by Blue Shield of California is further proof that we can't trust the insurance industry to stand with customers," Garamendi said. "As we climb out of a deep recession, the insurance companies are kicking us back down. Fortunately, for rate increases over 10%, the 2010 health care reform allows the federal government to review, question and disclose facts to the public about the increase." "When Congress passed the Patients' Bill of Rights last year, we instituted important reforms that are helping to rein in the worse abuses of the insurance industry," Garamendi continued, adding that Republicans are attempting to repeal health care reform. "Even with the strong consumer protections found in the Patients' Bill of Rights, insurers like Blue Shield are still exploiting patients for financial gain. This is an argument for more consumer protections, not less. House Republicans want to replace the Patients' Bill of Rights with the insurance industry's Right to Discriminate. Let's not start the New Year by exposing consumers to new risks." Garamendi said that repealing health care reform would hurt children, younger and older adults and seniors. "After a century of struggle, Americans now have a Patients Bill of Rights," Garamendi said. "Now that they control the House, Congressional Republicans are trying to shred the Patients' Bill of Rights. My district residents and Americans across the country would suffer immensely if this were to happen. This would take us back to the days when insurance companies completely controlled your health care. Instead of moving backwards, we should move forward with implementing health care reform, which will empower and protect the American people."

********** Published: January 13, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 39