Legislative Council Rejects Health Insurance Rate Hike Fix

Augusta, Maine (Monday, October 31, 2011)- This afternoon the Maine Legislative Council, made up of House and Senate leadership of both political parties, voted down two bills and tabled one more aimed at fixing the contentious health insurance deregulation law passed last session, Public Law Chapter 90. 

P.L. 90, known as LD1333 while it was moved through the Legislature as a bill last spring, significantly changes the formula regulating how health insurance companies charge small businesses and their employees based on their age, occupation, and geography. These changes in “community rating” have meant that some businesses in central Maine are facing 60% premium increases since P.L. 90 took effect on October 1st, while one Presque Isle business faces a 90% increase in company health insurance costs.

“The more we study the new health insurance law, the more we see the faulty assumptions on which it is based,” said Garrett Martin, Executive Director of the Maine Center for Economic Policy, which is studying the implementation of P.L. 90. “Charging younger individuals in more populated areas of the state less will increase costs for older people in more rural parts of the state. Small businesses won’t benefit from the law’s reinsurance program even though they pay a portion of its costs. As it stands, the real winners are the insurance companies that will gain more power and profits at the expense of Maine consumers. We are disappointed that the Legislative Council turned down efforts to restore balance to Maine’s health insurance market.”

“Some of our members who were up for policy renewal in October have voiced serious concern over these enormous rate increases they are being quoted,” said Maine Small Business Coalition Director Nate Libby. “For them, it’s the same insurance company, the same policy, the same employees, but with new rules for the insurance companies to play by. These new ways of penalizing Maine businesses who offer their workers’ health insurance, reward long-time employment and happen to be located in rural Maine are unfair and damaging to our rural economies and communities.”

“The Legislature should be fixing these problems by repealing this law, but today the Legislative Council turned a blind eye to this mounting disaster in Maine’s insurance market,” said Libby.