Senators And House Republicans Ask For Health Insurance Premiums Data

Monday, July 22, 2013

Te senior Republicans on the U.S. Senate and House health policy committees and subcommittees Monday pressed the White House to release data it has collected on health insurance premiums in 34 states, after the administration released a report last week highlighting premium information in just 11 states.  

Senator Lamar Alexander of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, with Senators Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Representatives Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking the agency to make public the remaining information about insurance premiums, so consumers can plan ahead for their health care costs next year, when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is implemented. 

The members write in the letter: “We believe it is essential that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provide transparent pricing as soon as possible for the millions of Americans who will be impacted by this law. 

“The Wall Street Journal recently reported that HHS has collected insurance premium filings for 34 federal and federal-state partnership exchanges but does not intend to release this information to the public until September. Rather than release this premium information to the public, you stated in a press briefing that ‘negotiations are underway and we will be negotiating rates across the country.’ According to an administration source, insurers are being informed whether their rates are similar to other insurers. These negotiations have been conducted behind closed doors, without assurances that a fair process has been observed or that the negotiations will result in better insurance products for consumers. The Wall Street Journal described this process as ‘running ObamaCare as a black-ops mission.’

“Open enrollment on the exchanges will begin Oct. 1, 2013. Delaying the release of premium information until September will only serve to limit the amount of time individuals and families have to budget for the substantially higher insurance costs many will face.  As previously noted in a congressional report, rates in the individual market are expected to increase as much as 30 to 40 percent on average in 2014 A separate congressional report on the internal analyses of America’s largest insurance companies showed that insurers were planning for average premium increases for new customers in the individual market of 96 percent, with spikes as high as 400 percent.

“We are equally concerned about the potential impact of premium increases on small businesses.  A recent poll of small businesses found that 41 percent have frozen hiring because of the health care law while 19 percent said they had reduced their number of employees because of the law. Another 38 percent of businesses said they have pulled back from plans to expand.  For small businesses trying to offer insurance to employees, premium increases could mean further job cuts and lost growth.  Publicizing insurance rates as soon as possible will give America’s job creators time to plan.” 

The members ask Secretary Sebelius to provide all filings, including rate information, received by HHS from insurers applying for qualified health plan status on the federal and partnership exchanges.

They also ask for the methodology that HHS uses to determine when to negotiate with insurers regarding their exchange proposal and how HHS determines whether an insurer’s rate conforms with another insurer’s rate. They request to know what information HHS shares with insurers including information that may be offered to one insurer but not another (and the reason why) and what, if any, incentives of any kind HHS uses to motivate insurers to change their rates.

Latest Census Bureau Population Estimates Indicate Aging Across Tennessee

According to numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, Tennessee's 2015 median age is 38.6 years, slightly older than the U.S. median age, which rose from 37.7 in 2014 to 37.8 in 2015.  The data release includes national, state and county population estimates for 2015 by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin.  A partner to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Tennessee ... (click for more)

Alexander Says Congress Needs To Pass 21st Century Cures Now

Senate health chairman Lamar Alexander on Thursday said the miraculous eyesight recovery of Tennessean Doug Oliver underscores the need for passage of 21st Century Cures to “unleash medical innovation and give more Americans access to life-changing treatments and life-saving cures, like Doug did.”  Senator Alexander made his remarks at a Bipartisan Policy Center event alongside ... (click for more)

Darrel Eric Chapman, 49, Dies In Red Bank Home Destroyed By Fire; Case Ruled Arson/Suicide

Darrel Eric Chapman, 49,  died in a house fire in Red Bank early Friday morning after the homeowner said he was awakened by popping sounds. Red Bank Police Chief Tim Christol said the case is being considered an arson/suicide. He said, " At approximately 12:30 a.m., the Red Bank Fire and Police departments responded to a residential fire at 604 Bitsy Lane where they discovered ... (click for more)

Attorney Gets Misdemeanor Plea In 2nd Case Involving Sexually Harassing Waitress

A Chattanooga attorney who was charged for the second time with sexually harassing a waitress has pleaded guilty in General Sessions Court to a reduced charge. In the latest case, Charles D. Lawson has been charged with aggravated sexual battery after an incident at a local restaurant involving a waitress. Prosecutor Jason Demastus said Lawson pleaded guilty to the B misdemeanor ... (click for more)

Save Coolidge Park - And Response (2)

Last Monday morning while at work a good friend messaged me concerning a matter that I had not heard anything about dealing with Coolidge Park and its future. Apparently that night the City Council was to read an ordinance that would allow the mayor to start negotiations with the relocation of the Medal of Honor Museum. This ordinance would enable the city to lease approximately ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Chicago’s Gun Buyer

In the days following the horrifying massacre of 50 people at an Orlando nightclub, several of the crazies in the media have dashed about trying to prove how easy it is to obtain an assault weapon. Some guy in Philadelphia claims he bought one in seven minutes when, in fact, we would all have been better served if he had written how long it took him to get a psychiatric exam and ... (click for more)