Governor, When is Excessiveness Excessive?

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The state senate is trying to decide whether to override the governor’s veto of provisions that were included in the state budget that

…narrow the amount of time the insurance commissioner has to review [health insurance] rate-hike proposals to 30 days from 45 days. In addition, if the commissioner fails to make a judgment within 30 days, the proposed rate hikes would automatically take effect.

These provisions were included in the budget in response to the Division of Insurance’s denial of 235 of 274 increases proposed by insurers for plans covering individuals and small businesses, last April.

However, the madness of this debate from the Administration comes in the next paragraph of the State House News Services ($) story:

Under the proposal [in the budget], insurance regulators would also be required to prioritize the “actuarial soundness” of rate hikes, a metric that insurer advocates say simply requires that premiums be sufficient to cover costs.

Wait for it:

But critics [the Patrick Administration] of that proposal say it would prioritize that measurement over others that are currently equal under the law, such as “excessiveness” and “reasonableness.”

Really? Is this the key to health care cost containment? A vague ill defined standard left open to bureaucrats? If so, we are in real trouble.