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Lawmakers in most states have little control over healthcare premiums

Los Angeles Times, August 13, 2010

As Americans struggle with double-digit hikes in their health insurance bills, millions are coming up against a hard reality: The state regulators who are supposed to protect them can often do little to control what insurers are charging. In many states, it is the insurance industry that largely controls the regulatory process, funneling money to key state lawmakers and squelching efforts to expand government oversight of premiums, a review of state regulations and campaign donations shows. "The pressure that the industry can bring to bear in state legislatures is unbelievable," said J. Robert Hunter, a former insurance commissioner in Texas. "They pretty much get what they want."