Officials Call For Hearings On Proposed Insurance Increases

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Democrats and Republicans called Wednesday for special hearings to be held on proposed double-digit rate increases being sought by nine health insurers that offer coverage on and off the state's Access Health CT exchange.

Connecticut's Department of Insurance is planning to hold an informational public hearing on the requested rate increases in early August and accept written comments. But Democratic Attorney General William Tong said he wants a “formal hearing” at which expert witness would be called to testify and insurance industry representatives would be questioned under oath about why they need such a large rate increase.

The insurers are seeking average rate increases of 20.4% for the individual market, and 14.8% for small groups.

“Yes, I want to litigate this question because the people of this state deserve nothing less than that,” Tong said during a news conference with other state officials and advocates. He called the insurance department's informational hearing “pretty loose and informal.”

Republican leaders in the Connecticut General Assembly, meanwhile, called on the state's insurance commissioner this week to hold a public hearing in the state Capitol complex on the proposed rate increases.

“We are pleased that Democrats too say they want a hearing on this issue, but we need much more than the typical rate increase hearings of the past where a select few gather behind closed doors in a small office before executive branch staff,” the top GOP legislative leaders said in a joint statement. “We need a full public hearing at the State Capitol before the legislature and the public we represent.”

Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais said in a statement that his agency has always accepted public testimony from consumers, consumer advocates, elected officials and others during the annual rate hearing process.

He said the agency is “fully committed to consumer protection and transparency,” noting the hearings are open to the public and aired on the public affairs CT-N Network. Also, the proposed rate increases, which go through an actuarial review by the state department, are posted on the agency's website.