Balber, Carmen

Carmen Balber is a Consumer Advocate with Consumer Watchdog, a nationally recognized consumer group that has been fighting corrupt corporations and crooked politicians since 1985.

Health Law Doesn't Protect Californians from Rate Increases

By Carmen Balber

Reporters largely missed the point of a Commonwealth Fund study released last week, that looked at consumer savings under Obamacare's 80-20 rule, the rule making insurance companies spend at least 80% of your premiums on health care, not overhead.

The authors started with a fact we already knew - that health insurance companies had to pay $1.1 billion in rebates for missing the MLR requirement in 2011 - and that big shiny number distracted the news media. But the authors zeroed in on a much more important fact. Insurance companies successfully reduced administrative costs by $1.184 billion in 2011, but they used those savings to increase profits instead of passing them on to consumers.

Another $195K from Billionaire Chairman in Effort to Raise Rates on California Drivers

By Carmen Balber

George Joseph, Mercury insurance company's billionaire chairman who is backing Proposition 33, gave $195,000 to a nonprofit group recently as part of the campaign's effort to hide from voters that the initiative was written and funded by the insurance industry. Proposition 33 will allow insurance companies to charge good drivers more just because they had a break in their insurance coverage, even if they did not have a car and were not driving.

Anthem Plans Rate Hikes Up To 20% for Nearly 600,000 Californians

By Carmen Balber
Consumer Watchdog

Anthem Blue Cross will raise health insurance rates for nearly 600,000 Californians by as much as 20% on May 1. A ballot initiative to make health insurance more affordable by regulating premium increases is necessary to protect Californians from excessive rate hikes.

Friday was the 2nd anniversary of the federal health reform law, which will require every American to have health insurance by 2014 but does not control what private health insurance companies can charge. The ballot initiative proposed by Consumer Watchdog Campaign would require health insurance companies to publicly justify rates, under penalty of perjury, and get rate increases approved before they take effect.

Financial Interests Gave $3.8 Million to Sponsors of Amendments to Weaken Reform Bill

By Carmen Balber
Consumer Watchdog
Thirty-four members of the U.S. House of Representatives that offered amendments to weaken consumer protections in the House financial reform package received $3.8 million in campaign contributions from the financial sector in 2009, an average of $111,000 each, according to a Consumer Watchdog analysis of data obtained from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Members of the New Democrat coalition, which delayed consideration of the bill last night until their demands on amendments were met, raised $6.5 million from firms in the financial sector.
The financial sector gave a total of $28 million to all members of the House of Representatives this year.  

Allowing Treasury to Preempt State Insurance Laws Should Be Kept out of House Financial Reform Package

By Carmen Balber
Consumer Watchdog

Legislation to undermine state insurance protections, including laws requiring insurers to hold enough money to pay all claims, passed the U.S. House Financial Services Committee today.

Insurance deregulation should not be part of a financial re-regulation package, said the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, who called on members of Congress to reject preemption of state insurance laws when financial reform legislation reaches the House floor.
A plan to roll back oversight of the insurance industry does not belong in the financial re-regulation package.
The bill, H.R. 2609 (Kanjorski, D-PA), would undermine state insurance protections by empowering a new Federal Insurance Office in the Treasury Department to preempt state capital, solvency, and other prudential measures on behalf of foreign insurance firms.