Health Care

Women’s Voices Writes Insurance Commissioner Regarding Rules for Rate Review

November 30, 2016

Dear Director Huff:

We are submitting comments on behalf of Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice, an education and advocacy organization in St. Louis.  We are pleased that Missouri will join other states with the enactment of a law that allows for formal review of annual price increases in health insurance policies premiums in line with the Affordable Care Act.  We have the following three concerns we feel should be addressed in the Rate Review Rule:

  1. Public input is vital to the process of rate review. Therefore, we are requesting that the Department hold hearings for rate increases which exceed 20% and allow for rate increases over 10%. Implementing a concrete threshold will add a level of confidence to the process for consumers and will trigger deeper review for significant increases.
  1. To facilitate and encourage public input, the rule should require the Department to make rate filings public, posting Parts I and II on the Department website.
  1. Notification of rates deemed “unreasonable” should be made public by posting on the Department website and carriers should be required to post all “unreasonable” determinations on their websites as well. Adding this requirement will provide a reliable protocol for public noti

Thank you for your consideration of these comments.

Alison Hile, Advocacy Committee Chair

Linda Zazove, Health Care Liaison

Rate Review Bill Signed Into Law

On July 5, 2016, Governor Nixon signed iSenate Bill 865 which gives authority to the Missouri Department of Insurance to review rates for health plans offered under the federal Affordable Care Act.  From an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

Senate Bill 865 establishes the Missouri Health Insurance Rate Transparency Act which allows the Missouri Department of Insurance to review insurance rates filed by health insurance companies, and to determine if the rates are reasonable. The rates filed by the insurance companies will also be made available online, and open to public comment prior to the rates taking effect.

“Up until now, Missouri was the only state in the nation without the ability to review health insurance rates, ceding that responsibility to the federal government,” Gov. Nixon said. “Now, with this legislation, Missouri consumers will no longer be in the dark when shopping for health insurance plans.”

Governor Vetoes Bill that would Charge Medicaid Patients for Missed Appointments

On July 5, 2016 Missouri’s governor  vetoed a measure that would have allowed the state’s doctors to charge Medicaid patients fees for missing appointments without advance notice.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon rejected Senate Bill 608 on Tuesday, saying the legislation “would needlessly punish our state’s most vulnerable citizens.”

Raise in Asset Limits Passes Legislature – Signed into law

People with disabilities and older Missourians on Medicaid will be able to save more of their money without sacrificing needed health coverage. HB1565 passed the MO Senate on May 10, 2016, The bill, signed into law by Governor Nixon on June 9, 2016, raises the asset limits people can have and still qualify for Medicaid.  This is the first increase in 50 years.

The Affordable Care Act

Women’s Voices supports the Affordable Care Act, which became law in 2010.   We work with Missouri Health Care for All, the Medicaid Expansion Coalition and other organizations throughout Missouri to ensure that health care is truly a human right.

We advocate on behalf of those with low income to receive subsidies when they purchase insurance on a federally operated health insurance exchange (marketplace).

Programs:

Medicaid Expansion in Missouri

Work to expand Medicaid in Missouri has gone hand-in-hand with our work on access to affordable health care for all.  Missouri’s Medicaid program leaves thousands of low-income adults, most of whom are working, without health care coverage.

Each state must approve Medicaid expansion for it to be provided under the Affordable Care Act.  The Missouri Legislature has not voted to approve Medicaid expansion which would provide insurance for an additional 300,000 Missourians.  As of February 2015 Missouri is one of 22 states that has not approved Medicaid expansion.

Health Care For All

After drastic cuts were made in Missouri’s Medicaid program in 2005, Women’s Voices began advocating for quality, affordable health care for all.  In January, 2007 we learned about the Massachusetts initiative to provide health care for all their residents and in March, 2007 we stated our position, saying in part that:

Every resident of Missouri deserves to have access to adequate, affordable health care. Providing such a network of care would be a wise investment in the state’s future, benefiting all Missourians, including aging adults, working parents, individuals with disabilities, and the mentally ill.  We called for affordable health services for all Missouri’s children, including prevention services.

Programs:
January 2007 – Paths to Universal Health Insurance: Is Massachusetts a Map for Missouri?
January 2009 – Health Care: The System We Have And The Change We Want
October 2009 -Disparities in Health Care and the Challenge of Covering Everyone

 Stem Cell Research

In April 2006 Women’s Voices, along with the St. Louis Chapter of Hadassah, the Ethical Action Commitee of the St. Louis Ethical Society and Friends of the First Unitarian Church, sponsored a public seminar on stem cell research. In November, 2006, Missouri voters passed a ballot measure that ensures Missouri patients will have access to any therapies and cures that may result from stem cell research, and allows Missouri scientists to conduct any research permitted under federal law.

Women’s Voices supports the work of the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures.