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MA Health Insurers Will Continue to Fight Against Court's Decision to Prevent Rate Hikes

Source: IFA

Posted on 13 Apr 2010

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A group of six health insurers said it is not giving up its fight against Massachusetts insurance regulators, despite a court's decision to deny them from putting proposed rate increases into effect.

Last week, the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans (MAHP) filed a complaint in Suffolk Superior Court against Joseph G. Murphy, Massachusetts’ insurance commissioner. Murphy had previously disapproved 235 of 274 rate increase filed by several insurers, including those who filed the suit: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Fallon Community Health Plan, Harvard Pilgrim, Health New England, Neighborhood Health Plan and Tufts Health Plan.

Murphy, with the endorsement of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, dubbed the proposed increases excessive and unreasonable, citing the need to protect state consumers.

In its complaint, MAHP sought an injunction, prohibiting Murphy’s office from stopping the health plans from charging and collecting the rates proposed to take effect this month.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Stephen E. Neel denied MAHP’s request April 12, ruling that the insurers had not exhausted all of their administrative remedies through the state’s insurance department, according to the Boston Globe.

“We are disappointed that the court denied our motion for preliminary injunction, but we appreciate that the court has acted quickly in making its decision,” MAHP said in a statement to “We remain confident in the merits of our case and plan to consider all of our available options in light of today’s ruling.”

The association representing health insurers in the state said premiums and medical costs are “inextricably linked,” citing four of the five major health plans operating in the state who experienced operating losses in 2009.

“Making health care affordable needs to start with addressing the market clout of certain hospitals and physician groups that was identified in the attorney general’s recent report on health care costs and health care cost trends; otherwise, the cost of health care will continue to rise,” MAHP said.

The association supports legislative remedies included in bills under debate in the Massachusetts legislature, including a measure to cut the cost of coverage for small businesses by more than 22%, “providing them with additional resources to hire more employees, increase salaries, and make other investments that will jumpstart the state’s economy,” the group said.