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Amid Dispute, Mass. Insurers Pulled From State Site

Amid a rate dispute between health insurers and the Patrick administration, the Massachusetts Web site that links residents and small businesses with health care plans has removed insurance offerings from the companies that are suing the state over the rejection of proposed premium hikes.

A message posted Tuesday on the site said “insurers must pull their Commonwealth Choice plans until they reset the rates. We expect new rates soon.”

Eric Linzer of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans accuses state insurance officials of playing politics with health care.

"This goes back to what we've been saying all along — that these actions are going to wreak havoc on the entire health care system, and cause confusion for small businesses and consumers," Linzer said Tuesday.

Jay McQuaide, with BlueCross BlueShield Massachusetts, says the company is still offering coverage.

"We also sell our individual and small business products through brokers, for example, and also directly, through BlueCross," McQuaide said. "So the Connector is just one way we sell through the marketplace."

Only one insurance company, CeltiCare, is still listed on the state's Web site, and others, it says, will not be listed until they agree to lower rates.

An administration spokesman says the listings will return as soon as there is agreement about the rates, which could come by Friday.

On Monday, six leading insurers requested a court hearing Thursday in response to the administration's decision to reject the bulk of their 2010 premium rate increases. Gov. Deval Patrick says double-digit premium increases are preventing businesses from creating jobs.

The insurers accuse him of acting arbitrarily and seeking political advantage as the Democrat seeks re-election against a field that includes former Harvard Pilgrim Health Care president Charles Baker, a Republican.

This program aired on April 6, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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