Obama to Insurers: No More Outrageous Rate Hikes

President wants to stop repeat of Anthem 39% rate increase
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2010 6:39 AM CST
Updated Feb 22, 2010 7:56 AM CST
President Barack Obama speaks after his toast during the Governors Ball in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – The health bill President Obama is to unveil today will empower the federal government to cap insurers’ rate increases—a bid to prevent hefty rate hikes like the 39% Anthem Blue Cross premium hike in California that recently sparked outrage. The president’s bill would create a new board of industry experts to set annual limits for reasonable premium increases, and would enable the health and human services secretary to block hikes deemed excessive.

The White House bill, unlike the House and Senate proposals, focuses on reining in soaring insurance costs; Obama hopes to portray health reform as a move to protect Americans from greedy insurance companies, the New York Times reports. But his strategy also opens up a new angle for Republicans to attack—that Obama foresees steep rate increases even after health reform passes.

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