Bill to Control Health Insurance Rates Called Urgent for Small Business

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Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Coordinator, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

Greenlining Institute Joins Call for Passage of AB 52

SACRAMENTO – Health policy experts from The Greenlining Institute today joined Assemblymembers Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones to call for the passage of legislation to protect consumers and businesses by allowing the state insurance commissioner to reject excessive health insurance rate increases.

They argued that the bill, known as AB 52, is essential to protect the small businesses that are the major engine of job growth, particularly in communities of color – communities that have been especially hard hit by the recession. Unemployment rates for Latinos and African Americans in particular remain far higher than for whites, and people of color are less likely to have health coverage.

Introduced in December 2010, AB 52 would require health plans and insurers to seek approval from state regulators prior to raising health care premiums, copayments, or deductibles.  It would build upon newly-implemented federal and state law improving the health insurance rate filing and review process.

“Right now, the small businesses that are crucial sources of employment in African American, Asian and Latino communities are being hammered by astounding increases in their health insurance rates,” said Greenlining Institute General Counsel Samuel S. Kang. “These businesses are in desperate need of the protection AB 52 will provide. AB 52 will stop the bleeding and will help small businesses provide better insurance, resulting in healthier workers and more quality jobs in communities that urgently need them.”