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Mass. Insurers Sue To Block Rate Hike Decision

This article is more than 9 years old.

The largest health insurers in Massachusetts are suing the state in their fight with the Patrick administration over premium caps for small businesses.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of six health insurers, accuses the state insurance commissioner of using arbitrary standards to reject most premium increases for small business health plans.

Insurance Commissioner Joseph Murphy said last week he rejected 235 of 274 proposed rate increases because they included “excessive increases and rates unreasonable relative to the benefits provided.”

The insurers claim the decision was politically motivated, and could lead to millions of dollars in losses.

Eric Linzer, spokesman for the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, called the state’s effort to artificially cap rates “a reckless decision that is based in politics and will wreak havoc on the entire health care system.”

But Massachusetts' Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs Barbara Anthony says regulators reviewed each proposal to ensure financial solvency.

"The insurers are clearly in love with the status quo, and the status quo continues to charge double-digit premium increases on working families and small businesses," Anthony said.

The insurers are asking a judge to allow them to implement the higher rates immediately, with the difference held in escrow until the case is resolved.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This program aired on April 5, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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