Tuesday, June 22, 2010

PRC SUSPENDS BLUE CROSS PREMIUM HIKE

This just in from the PRC. Looks like the Blue Cross/Blue Shield rate increase will get a PRC hearing. Here's the news release:

New Mexico’s acting Superintendent of Insurance Johnny L. Montoya today ... signed an order suspending the recently-approved Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico (BCBSNM) health insurance premium rate increase settlement agreement.

The order suspends the April 26 agreement – which saw rates for an estimated 40,000 New Mexicans increase by an average of 21.3 percent – and establishes a public evidentiary hearing, to be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday, August 25 in Apodaca Hall (on the 2nd floor of the PERA Building, 1120 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe).

During the evidentiary hearing, NMPRC staff will present an overview of how it reached its decision to approve the original settlement, while BCBSNM representatives are expected to provide evidence and testimony to justify the double-digit rate increases. Additionally, public comment – both written and oral – will be taken during the hearing.

Montoya said he opted to sign the order to ensure that the rates are justified and to bring transparency to the rate approval process.

Tuesday’s order also includes a provision that allows BCBSNM to collect the agreed and increased fees pending the Aug. 25 hearing and any related decision.

“Because this increase coincides with very challenging financial times for nearly every New Mexican, it’s prudent for the Insurance Division and the citizens of this state to know exactly why such rates are warranted,” Montoya said. “My office is tasked with ensuring that the corporate solvency and consumer interests are balanced and I firmly believe that suspending the settlement and going ahead with the evidentiary hearing is in everyone’s best interest.”

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