Ballot measure won’t impact Obamacare in California: Consumer Watchdog

Ballot measure won’t impact Obamacare in California: Consumer Watchdog

California’s planned ballot measure on health insurance rate regulation would not upset Obamacare works in the Golden State, supporters of statewide ballot measure said.

Several consumer groups and California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones have long been demanding more authority over health premiums that consumers and small businesses pay to insurers. Californians will vote in November on whether to provide the insurance commissioner with veto power over rate hikes or not.

The Covered California exchange, which has so far signed up nearly 1.4 million people under Obamacare health law, has expressed numerous operational concerns in case the measure passes. The topics of concern include delays in getting approval for new rates and the doubt what would happen if an insurer's premiums are turned down just before open enrollment.

Susan Kennedy, a member of Covered California exchange, is one of the harshest opponents of the ballot measure and its potential negative effect on consumers.

At a board meeting, she said, “I’m a little afraid we are tiptoeing around this impact that could be really huge and very negative on our ability to function.”

The report issued to the Covered California exchange's 5-member board said contracting with health plans and negotiating rates was a very tightly “choreographed sequence” that start anew at the commencement of each calendar year and that under the existing timelines there would be very little flexibility in case there are major delays.

But, Santa Monica-based advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, argued that the Covered California exchange's concerns were overblown. The consumer group, which put the rate regulation measure on the ballot, also claimed that the rate regulation initiative would not retard the work of Covered California.

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