Connecticut medical society testifies against Anthem rate hike

But organized medicine officials are forbidden to present evidence of the harm doctors say the proposed 20% increase would bring.

By Emily Berry — Posted Nov. 29, 2010

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Representatives with the Connecticut State Medical Society were allowed to testify at a Nov. 17 public hearing about a proposed 20% rate hike for Anthem, but were denied "intervenor" status, which would have allowed the group to present more evidence of the harm physicians believe the rate hikes would do.

The hearing went ahead despite a request by state Attorney General and U.S. Sen.-elect Richard Blumenthal to wait until Anthem had submitted further documents to support its request.

Anthem wants to raise rates on 48,000 customers by an average of 20%, effective Jan. 1, 2011.

CSMS Executive Vice President Matthew Katz and Councilor Steven Wolfson, MD, a New Haven cardiologist, testified at the hearing at the invitation of Blumenthal.

Former Insurance Commissioner Thomas Sullivan, who resigned on Nov. 1, set the date for the hearing before his departure.

The requested increases would raise rates for current Anthem customers who buy their own coverage. In October, Anthem raised rates on subscribers who bought policies after Sept. 23, when some provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act kicked in.

A decision on the more recently requested rate increase was expected before Dec. 1.

In a statement Nov. 15, Katz questioned the Dept. of Insurance's decision to deny the society intervenor status for the hearing.

"That the [department] is holding a hearing about the rising cost of medical care, but finds it's 'not relevant' to talk about how Anthem pays physicians is ludicrous. Health insurance companies keep blaming physicians for the need to raise their premiums, and the DOI refuses to let us challenge that assertion," he said.

A hearing officer presided over the Nov. 17 hearing, and some members of the Dept. of Insurance staff asked questions of Anthem representatives. Acting Insurance Commissioner Barbara Spear will make the final decision about the latest rate hike.

Gov. Dan Malloy will appoint a permanent insurance commissioner after he takes office in 2011.

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