A story from Maine offers up another reason why we need the choice of a
public health insurance option, and it's a doozy. Anthem Blue Cross
and Blue Shield of Maine, a subsidiary of the insurance giant Wellpoint, is suing the State of Maine
because the insurance commissioner refused to approve its request for a
rate increase of 18.5% for its individual products, which included a
guaranteed 3% profit. Commissioner Mila Koffman found Anthem's request
"excessive" and approved a 10.9% average increase in premiums.
The Maine legislature gets high marks
for succeeding on many vital issues despite the tough economic
climate. Lawmakers expanded equality by legalizing gay marriage,
shored up future health coverage expansions, increased transparency and
regulatory oversight of health insurance products, and created a
court-supervised mediation process to prevent home foreclosures.