Health insurance regulation initiative qualifies for 2014 ballot

By Torey Van Oot  Sacramento Bee Capitol Alert

An initiative to regulate health insurance rates in California has qualified for the November 2014 ballot.

The Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog drafted the initiative after rate-regulation legislation fell short in the Capitol last year. The measure would give the state insurance commissioner the power to approve or reject health insurance rate changes, a move supporters say would protect consumers from spikes in the cost of coverage.

Proponents collected 800,000 voter signatures this spring in hopes of getting a spot on the Nov. 6 ballot, which will also feature an auto insurance measure opposed by Consumer Watchdog. But election officials were not able to determine whether enough of those signatures were valid to qualify by the late June deadline for making the November election.

Still, supporters believe the wording of the initiative would give the insurance commissioner the power to order refunds of excessive rate hikes enacted after this year’s Nov. 6  vote if the measure passes in 2014.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced today that a full check of the signatures showed that proponents exceeded the 504,760-signature threshold for qualifying an initiative for the ballot.

It is the third measure slated for the election 26 months away. The two others — an $11 billion water bond and a rainy day fund measure — were placed on that election ballot by the state Legislature.

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