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Lt. Governor Roberts Blasts Proposed Blue Cross Rate Hike

Providence, RI - April 23, 2010

Lt. Governor Elizabeth H. Roberts today expressed outrage at the double-digit rate hike proposed by Blue Cross & Blue Shield to plug the company’s reported loss of $100 million in 2009.

“Blue Cross has already burdened Rhode Islanders with almost a 10% increase in premiums approved in February of this year. Our business community and families are still struggling in a very fragile economy, and many are also recovering from devastating flood loss. Asking them now or in the future to shoulder the burden of the insurer’s inability to manage costs more effectively is simply outrageous,” stated Lt. Governor Roberts.

The Lt. Governor again is urging Blue Cross to take emergency action to solve this problem internally. She testified in opposition to the insurer’s previous rate hike proposals in September 2009 and January of this year, citing health insurance as the fastest growing costs for Rhode Island businesses and families.

“For businesses just getting back on their feet, a double-digit cost increase may be the determining factor in whether new hires are made or current employees are laid off,” the Lt. Governor explained. “If the CEO of Blue Cross feels he has no choice but to raise premiums, imagine how the self-employed and individuals feel who have no access to insurance through their employers, or those who have lost their jobs. Health insurance must not become an unaffordable luxury, leaving many Rhode Islanders with nowhere to turn,” she added.

Lt. Governor Roberts has responded to the spiraling costs of health care and the implementation of national health reform in Rhode Island by spearheading an initiative with all stakeholders. This intensified public effort is "Making It Work: Health Reform in Rhode Island," convened with the Rhode Island Foundation. On May 27th, the third of five sessions will continue to address a plan to responsibly address the costs and implementation of health care in Rhode Island.

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