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State Rejects Health Insurance Rate Hikes

BOSTON — For the first time, state regulators have rejected hundreds of proposed health insurance rate hikes on small businesses and individuals, calling them excessive and unreasonable.

The state insurance commissioner denied most of the 274 increases proposed by Massachusetts health insurers, some of which were as high as 32 percent.

Gov. Deval Patrick had directed the commissioner to reject any rate hikes he deemed too high.

“This is about giving some help and some economic breathing room to small businesses right now,” Patrick said. “I talk to small businesses all over the commonwealth who tell me stories about how they have the economic activity, they have reasons to justify adding staff — but with these 24 and 30 increase in premiums, they can’t see their way to do that.”

He also urged hospitals and other health care providers to renegotiate their insurance contracts so that, as he put it, they “get these premiums under control.”

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