Attorney General William Tong at a press conference in July Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

Connecticut’s Insurance Department will not comply with a request by Attorney General William Tong to postpone a planned Aug. 15 hearing to review rate hike requests by state health insurance providers, according to the state insurance commissioner.

“The CID will not delay the informational meeting as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the carriers must have their rates set by early September so [Access Health Connecticut] can be prepared for the open enrollment period that begins on 11/1/2022,” Commissioner Andrew Mais said.

The Tuesday statement by Mais denies Tong’s request to delay the hearing in case congressional action extends soon-to-expire health care subsidies. Mais’ refusal to postpone the event was the latest volley in an ongoing dispute between the attorney general and the insurance regulation agency, which began after several insurance providers filed requests to increase their rates by an average of 20.4% for plans starting in 2023.

While Tong has called for special hearings in which he could question insurance industry representatives under oath, the agency has opted to stay the course and continue with its plans to hold a standard informational hearing to review the requests later this month.

Tong reignited the issue this week with a letter to Mais, urging the commissioner to table the hearing while Congress considers extending federal tax credits that are set to expire in January. According to Tong, insurance providers cited those expiring subsidies as part of their justification for double-digit rate requests.

“The tax credit extension would be a game changer, and may significantly reduce the need for an increase,” Tong wrote. “It would be a dereliction of our duty to consumers to proceed with a hearing on rates built on what now appears to be a bad guess. Should Congress, as expected, vote to extend the Federal Advance Premium Tax Credits, requests must be revised—reflecting substantial savings to consumers— before any further steps are taken.” 

However, in his statement, Mais disputed Tong’s claim that the expiration of the federal subsidies had significantly driven the requests to raise insurance rates. 

“Suggestions to the contrary notwithstanding, CID did not ask the health carriers to assume the ARPA extension would expire on 1/1/23,” Mais said. “To the contrary, we had already asked each carrier to explain how they used the assumption of the federal subsidy in their data projection of premium for 2023 so that we have the information and flexibility to quickly address any changes.”

In a letter to Tong, Mais said the planned informational hearing would offer members of the public and elected officials the “perfect opportunity” to discuss both the proposed rate hikes and the potential impact of a federal extension of increased health care subsidies. 

Mais seemed to bristle at any suggestion his agency would not thoroughly review the requested rate hikes. 

“There is nothing that happens behind closed doors related to the Department’s ACA actuarial rate review process, which has been determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to be an effective rate review process,” he wrote in a letter to Tong. “The Connecticut Insurance Department is justly proud of its reputation as a world class insurance regulator.”

The hearing is scheduled to be held at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Monday, Aug. 15 and will focus on plans offered both on and off the state’s health insurance exchange from CIGNA Health & Life, CTCare Inc., CTCare Benefits Inc., and the ConnectiCare Insurance Company Inc.

Members of the public may participate both virtually and in person and can submit written testimony regarding the proposals from Aetna, Anthem Health Plans, and United Healthcare/Oxford.