Senate Republicans want hearing on insurance premium hikes

GOP leaders on the Senate Finance Committee are calling for the panel to take a closer look at what's causing the recent wave of insurance premium increases. 

Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Pat Roberts (Kan.) say the hearing will shed light on how extensively the new health reform law is driving the premium hikes.

"[A] recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that some health plans will be raising premiums between 1 and 9 percent in the next plan year as a direct result of changes in the health reform law," the Republicans wrote last Friday in a letter to Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). "Others, including Secretary Sebelius, have predicted much lower increases.

"A public hearing would provide an opportunity to sort through these different estimates and review the changes affecting premiums."

The GOP leaders have specifically requested testimony from Jay Angoff, director of the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, and Richard Foster, chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  

"Mr. Angoff should be made available to provide information about trends in the current health insurance marketplace while Mr. Foster should discuss some of the underlying issues and cost drivers behind health care inflation," the Republicans wrote.