Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rep. Morgan Carroll's FAIR Bill Clears First House Hurdle

A bill by Rep. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, that would require health and auto insurance companies to secure the approval of the state insurance commissioner before raising premiums cleared a House committee Thursday.

HB 1389, which has the co-sponsorship of 30 House Democrats, would also give the insurance commissioner authority to punish insurers for wrongfully denying claims.

Representatives of the health insurance industry testified in opposition to the bill, claiming that it is unnecessary because current law allows rejection of rate increases that are discriminatory or excessive.

However, Carroll told the committee that her bill is necessary to slow the high rate of premium increases in the state.

She said that data indicates that the average health insurance premium in Colorado rose 140 percent in the last five years, while the amount of coverage purchased by each dollar of premiums paid fell from $188 to $46 between 2002 and 2007.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation Colorado has the seventh-highest health insurance premiums in the nation.

Thirty-eight other states require prior approval of a government regulator before insurance rate increases can take effect.