Health Reform Bill Pitched by State Auditor

Health Reform Bill Pitched by State Auditor

2/24/2011

Montana State Auditor Monica Lindeen’s office has pitched one of this season’s first major bills to put into operation part of the federal health care reform. However, some lawmakers view the proposal with skepticism.

Rep. Tom Berry, a Republican from Roundup, said, “I still don’t understand the pressing need for this bill.”

He also questioned why Lindeen needed the authority to review the new rates for health insurance, without the ability of approving or disapproving them, when the federal government has also the same authority.

House Bill 105, which was sponsored by Rep. Robyn Driscoll, a Democrat from Billings, requires Montana health insurers to submit their rates to Lindeen’s office. The Bill also grants authority to the office of the State Auditor to review the insurance rates.

Lindeen, also a Democrat, is in charge of regulating the Montana insurance industry.

If HB105 is not approved, Montana’s health insurers will have to file their rates to the federal government for review and approval. This was told by the chief legal counsel for Lindeen, Driscoll and Jesse Laslovich, to the House Business and Labor Committee.

For his part, Laslovich said, “Either we are going to do it ourselves, or we are going to have the federal government do it for us. That is why we are here.”

Montana is one of the 3 states that do not require health insurers to submit their rates to state regulators. The federal health reform law is requiring states to conduct a review of the health insurance rates to make sure that they are practical and non-discriminatory.

WRITTEN BY:

blakeh@wellsdrew.com