Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Garamendi Says Insurance Companies Kick Californians When They’re Down

January 6, 2011
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA), who served for eight years as California's Insurance Commissioner, denounced Blue Shield health insurance for hiking up rates by as much as 59 percent for individuals on private plans.

"Today’s egregious rate hike by Blue Shield of California is further proof that we can't trust the insurance industry to stand with consumers," Congressman Garamendi said. "As we climb out of a deep recession, the insurance companies are kicking us back down. Fortunately, for rate increases over 10%, the 2010 health care reform allows the Federal government to review, question, and disclose facts to the public about the increase."

"When Congress passed the Patient's Bill of Rights last year, we instituted important reforms that are helping to rein in the worst abuses of the insurance industry. Next Wednesday, House Republicans will attempt to repeal these vital consumer protections," Garamendi continued. "Even with the strong consumer protections found in the Patient's Bill of Rights, insurers like Blue Shield are still exploiting patients for financial gain. This is an argument for more consumer protections, not less. House Republicans want to replace the Patient's Bill of Rights with the Insurance Industry's Right to Discriminate. Let's not start the New Year by exposing consumers to new risks."

Congressman Garamendi thinks that repealing health care reform would hurt children, younger and older adults, and seniors. Garamendi is available for interviews to explain why the Republican plan is bad for America:

• Repealing the ban on discrimination by health insurers based on pre-existing conditions;
• Repealing the ban that prohibits health insurance companies from rescind coverage when you get sick;
• Repealing tax credits for small businesses and American families;
• Repealing policies that lower costs and expand services for seniors;
• Repealing policies that let young adults stay on their parents’ health care plans; and
• Repealing the ban on annual and lifetime limits on covered benefits.

"After a century of struggle, Americans now have a Patient's Bill of Rights," Congressman Garamendi said. "Now that they control the House, Congressional Republicans are trying to shred the Patient's Bill of Rights. My district residents and Americans across the country would suffer immensely if this were to happen. This would take us back to the days when insurance companies completely controlled your health care. Instead of moving backwards, we should move forward with implementing health reform, which will empower and protect the American people."