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The Health Premiums Puzzle

Leslie Margolin, president of Anthem Blue Cross, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Feb. 23, 2010. She appeared to explain an attempt to boost premiums by up to 39 percent. (AP)

In March, President Obama signed health care reform into law. But skyrocketing insurance premiums are still a concern.

For now, regulation of rates is left chiefly to the states.

On Tuesday, Senate Democrats proposed a plan for the Federal government to step in when states can’t – or won’t – act to rein in hikes.

Is this the right move?

Or should we be focusing on medical costs and other factors that can drive up rates?

And is it the right time for another change, even before we start to roll out the last reform?

This Hour, On Point: premiums and the next step on health care.

Guests:

Noam Levey, health policy reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

Gail Wilensky, economist and senior fellow at Project HOPE, an international health education foundation. She was an adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and a contributor to the McCain health care plan. She was administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration under President George H.W. Bush, directing the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Carmen Balber, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Washington, D.C., office. Her organization supports allowing the federal government to regulate health care premium rates in states, when “state laws are inadequate to limit unjustified rate increases.”

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Aug 28, 2015
WDBJ-TV7 meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner, right, wipes his eyes during the early morning newscast as anchors Kimberly McBroom, center, and guest anchor Steve Grant deliver the news at the station in Roanoke, Va., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed during a live broadcast Wednesday, while on assignment in Moneta. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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Lightning first ignited the Meadow fire on July 20, 2014 in Yosemite. By September 8, the fire had charred 2,582 acres. Bernie Krause has recorded soundscapes of national parks destroyed by large areas of forest fires. Listen below.  (National Park Service)

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Aug 28, 2015
Lightning first ignited the Meadow fire on July 20, 2014 in Yosemite. By September 8, the fire had charred 2,582 acres. Bernie Krause has recorded soundscapes of national parks destroyed by large areas of forest fires. Listen below.  (National Park Service)

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Aug 28, 2015
WDBJ-TV7 meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner, right, wipes his eyes during the early morning newscast as anchors Kimberly McBroom, center, and guest anchor Steve Grant deliver the news at the station in Roanoke, Va., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed during a live broadcast Wednesday, while on assignment in Moneta. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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