Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature want the state insurance commissioner to give greater scrutiny to health insurance rate increases. State Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) said Wisconsin residents currently have no recourse to health insurance rate hikes.
“It comes down to cost, and that’s what we’re trying to focus on,” Larson said during a press conference at the Capitol on Thursday. “It is more expensive to make sure that you have insurance and to stay healthy in Wisconsin than in most other states in the nation.”
The bill would require the state Office of the Commissioner of Insurance to provide 60 days notice when insurers propose rate hikes, and public hearings on increases of 10 percent or more. “All this could be said in one simple word: transparency,” said Representative Deb Kolste (D-Janesville), the bill’s Assembly author.
Larson and Kolste said the Affordable Care Act enabled states to review insurance rate hikes, but Wisconsin’s OCI has not done so. “Everyone is concerned about the rate of insurance increases,” Kolste said. “We need to change that escalation curve.”
“We have an insurance commissioner’s office that has very passive, laissez faire approach to rates and premiums, and we need to change direction,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin.