Obama administration officials want the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to work with state insurance regulators to oversee health insurance prices, rather than creating a new price review agency.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs gave that interpretation of the Obama administration health system proposal Monday, during a briefing.
The administration has released a proposal that calls for creating a “Health Insurance Rate Authority to “provide needed oversight at the federal level and help states determine how rate review will be enforced and monitor insurance market behavior.”
If a health insurance increase was “unreasonable and unjustified,” the government could make a health insurer lower premiums, provide rebates or take other actions to make premiums affordable, officials write in the proposal.
Gibbs described the proposal as a “starting point” for the health reform summit President Obama plans to hold Thursday in Washington.
Although the proposal refers to a “Health Insurance Rate Authority,” the HIRA is “not a new federal agency,” Gibbs said, according to a briefing transcript provided by the White House. “There’s no new bureaucracy. This will be done out of the secretary’s office” in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
A reporter at the briefing asked whether the HIRA would “serve as a guide” to the “50 states that do the actual regulating.”
“The [HHS] secretary in conjunction with states will develop a review process for unreasonable premium increases,” Gibbs said.