Insurance chief OKs ACA rates

ATLANTA — Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said Thursday that he had “no choice” but to accept rates submitted by insurance companies for Georgia consumers who utilize the federal insurance exchange under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

On Tuesday, Hudgens asked for a 30-day delay in the rates filing deadline, which was Wednesday, and asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to show reasons the rates submitted by Georgia health insurers are not justified under the ACA.

Hudgens said the rates submitted by insurers operating in Georgia showed increases of up to 198 percent of what consumers are currently paying. Under the act, states were to create insurance exchanges where individuals could purchase coverage. Georgia is not participating in that program, which means the Georgia exchange will be set by the federal government.

“Yesterday, after not receiving a response to my request for a 30 day delay from the secretary of Health and Human Services, I was left with no viable option but to accept the filings for the federally facilitated Georgia exchange,” Hudgens said. “Although not surprised, I am disappointed in the unresponsiveness of the Obama administration.”

Because of the size of the rate hikes submitted by insurers, Hudgens said he employed independent actuaries to review the rates.

“These actuarial studies show that the prices were not excessive and that Obamacare will inflict substantially higher health insurance costs on Georgia consumers,” the commissioner said.

Hudgens said implementation of the act should be delayed — or scrapped — to spare Georgia consumers from the added expense.

“President Obama has repeatedly assured Americans that his health care law would not increase cost on the American people,” Hudgens said, “however, those assurances are not holding true in Georgia.”