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Health Costs Legislation Faces Tough Road

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Legislation that would require state approval to raise health insurance rates is struggling to pass its first test in the Senate. The measure by Senator Liz Figueroa of Sunol is at least 1 vote short of passing the Senate Insurance Committee with time running out. The deadline for bills to pass their first house is June 6th and Figueroa´s legislation must clear 2 committees and the full Senate before then.

Consumer activists pushing the bill say that if it dies they´ll try to collect enough voter signatures to put a broader health cost control measure on the November 2004 ballot.

Figueroa´s bill is modeled after provisions of Proposition 103. The 1988 ballot measure requires approval from the state insurance commissioner to change rates for auto insurance and other types of property-casualty coverage.

Consumer advocates credit Proposition 103´s prior approval requirements for keeping California´s auto insurance rates under control and say it can do the same thing for health insurance.