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State Needs to Do Its Job on Rates

The South Florida Sun-Sentineleditorial board says the very least Florida officials can do -- after turning down $5 billion a year in federal funds that would have covered 1 million low-income uninsured in the state -- is to constrain price hikes on coverage for everyone else. That has always been the job of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

But earlier this year, lawmakers removed OIR's authority for rate regulation until 2016, saying that since the federal government is writing the rules for the Affordable Care Act, it should handle rate regulation as well.

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty hasn't made any obvious attempts to hold on to the rate-regulation authority.  He told the Orlando Sentinel editorial board that Obamacare has an inherent "self-regulator" that limits insurer spending.

But as Health News Florida reported Wednesday, consumer groups say the limits don't kick in until after the fact, in the form of rebates to customers. It would be far better to preview the rates to determine whether they are inflated, they say.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.