The Boston Globe, June 30, 2011

As lawmakers and industry leaders toil over plans to fundamentally change how health care is paid for in Massachusetts, two leading consumer groups are asking them to give ratepayers a one-year reprieve from premium increases. At a noontime rally at the State House today, Health Care for All and the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization plan to call for a 2012 freeze on base premium rates that have jumped sharply in the past decade. The idea is to pressure decision makers, particularly insurers and hospitals, to hash out a long-term plan at a quicker pace. The Rev. Hurmon Hamilton, president of the interfaith group, said he expects industry leaders to say a freeze is impossible. From 2007 to 2009, premiums for private group plans in Massachusetts increased 5 to 10% annually, while benefits were reduced, according to a state report. Last year, state regulators fought off proposed increases in the teens and higher for small businesses and individuals. The state Division of Insurance has no authority to enact a cap on rates. That means a freeze would require cooperation from insurers and physicians.

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