Massachusetts Judge Denies Insurers' Requests For Double-Digit Rate Hikes

The Boston Globe: "A Suffolk Superior Court judge yesterday denied a request that would have let six Massachusetts health insurers go forward with double-digit rate hikes for tens of thousands of small businesses and individuals, setting up a protracted battle that could become a test of government's role in controlling health care costs. Judge Stephen E. Neel's decision against granting the preliminary injunction sought by insurance companies means the state's rejection of 235 proposed rate increases stands for now." The proposed rate increases would have taken effect April 1. "Insurers are pursuing appeals within the Division of Insurance. If their appeals are turned down, the court would take up the case later this spring" (Weisman, 4/13). 

The New York Times notes that some of the increases "were as high as 34 percent" (Sack, 4/12).

The Christian Science Monitor: "Massachusetts enacted a universal healthcare plan in 2006 that includes politically controversial measures such as the individual mandate requiring all adults to purchase insurance. With opponents of the national healthcare legislation passed weeks ago promising legal action, the Massachusetts case was seen a foretaste of what could lie ahead. In this instance, the court affirmed that, for now at least, the state has the authority to oversee the industry" (Buchanan, 4/12).

The Boston Herald: "Gov. Deval Patrick applauded the ruling, calling it 'a welcome decision for small businesses and working families who need immediate relief from excessive and unreasonable increases in their health-care costs.' Insurers, however, said they'll continue to fight for increased rates." The suit was filed by six nonprofit insurers. "They said charging last year's rates for this year's health care would trigger multimillion-dollar losses. Last week, they asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction, which would have allowed them to collect their proposed 2010 rates while waiting for the matter to be ultimately settled. But Neel's ruling yesterday forces the insurers back to the state's insurance commission" (McConville, 4/13).

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