Tuesday, March 11, 2008
A.B. Blunt in Providence, RI
Bitter denunciations of monopolistic greed poured from the podium at a public hearing in Providence on January 17th. Subscribers in the “direct pay” class of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Rhode Island hoped these words would block a rate-increase request filed with the state Health Insurance Commissioner in November, 2007. If the commissioner approves the request, as many fear he will, subscribers will face an average rate increase of 12.7 percent in their monthly premiums.
Rhode Islanders traveled on one of the coldest nights of the winter to attend the hearing in downtown Providence. Following opening arguments from the Blue Cross attorney and then the assistant state Attorney General, a Blue Cross subscriber and attorney by profession was the first to speak. Testifying on the excessive costs of health care for himself and his family, as well as the rising cost of food, gasoline, and heating oil, the speaker demonstrated the hardship he and his family would suffer if rates were to increase. The men and women who followed him testified to the same troubles, and in words of desperation, disgust, and outrage, implored the commission to deny the rate increase.