(Washington, DC) — Commissioner Gennet Purcell, Esq., of the DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) announced that the District of Columbia will receive a $1 million federal grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to enhance DISB’s health insurance premium rate program.
The grant announcement, which was made recently by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, will be used to improve the oversight of proposed health insurance premium increases, take action against insurers seeking unreasonable rate hikes, and ensure consumers receive value for their premium dollars.
“The District of Columbia is extremely grateful to President Barack Obama and Secretary Sebelius for awarding the city with this grant that safeguards our residents from unreasonable health insurance premiums,” said Commissioner Purcell, adding that DISB had submitted the grant application in July. “With this grant, DISB will continue to create a financial-services market that protects residents from excessive rate increases, but also allows us to move forward in modernizing our approaches in reaching the goal of affordable and accessible care for District consumers.”
The Health Insurance Premium Review Grant is one element of a broad effort under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to increase access to affordable health care. A total of $46 million was awarded to 45 states and the District of Columbia. PPACA includes a variety of provisions to promote a high-quality, high-value, health care system for all Americans, and to make the health insurance market more consumer-friendly and transparent. The grant underscored the federal administration’s commitment to work with state regulators; and it was awarded to DISB to make structural changes to its regulatory authority.
In seeking the grant, DISB proposed to use the funding to significantly enhance the agency’s process for the review and approval of rates of health insurers through the use of advanced technology and the hiring of specialized staff. Additionally, the grant will be used to create a uniformed rate filing procedure for all health providers operating in the District of Columbia. Finally, DISB will use the funding to develop procedures and a system to collect and report health insurance rates and trends in health insurance coverage to the HHS Secretary and the public.
“DISB is looking forward to having these tools to ensure the stability of the marketplace, keep costs low, and provide consumers with increased transparency; as well as offer the choices and quality they need to make the best health care decisions for their businesses and families,” Commissioner Purcell added.